Asian Journal of Environment and Disaster Management (AJEDM)

Volume 2 Number 1 (2010)

Asian Journal of Environment and Disaster Management 2010 2 1

doi: 10.3850/S179392402009000337

The Impacts of Afghan and US Counter-narcotics Efforts on Afghan Poppy Farmers

David M. Catarious Jr.1 and Alison Russell2
1Environment and Energy Team, Resource Analysis Division, CNA, Alexandria, VA 22311, USA.
2International Affairs Group, Center for Strategic Studies, CNA, Alexandria, VA 22311, USA.


The proliferation of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan in the years since 2001 has been a source of international concern due to the opium trade’s destabilizing impacts on the nation and its central government.When prices are high, themain beneficiaries are insurgents (such as the Taliban), drug traffickers, criminal elements, and opportunistic regional warlords. However, poppy has also been a critical source of income to many farmers. As such, policies to stem poppy cultivation must be pursued with care. Implemented improperly, actions taken to eliminate poppies could be counterproductive to the stability and viability of both the central government and the rural population. Counter-narcotics activities must properly support, rather than punish, the Afghan farmers, who represent the most vulnerable and victimized link in the opium trade. One critical aspect of moving farmers away from poppy is to identify alternative means of making a living that are viable, sustainable, and secure. In addition, the success of counter-narcotics activities must be measured over the long-term, not just one planting season; determining the proper metrics by which to judge success is a crucial step in assembling an effective poppy elimination strategy.

Keywords: Opium poppy, Afghanistan, Counter-narcotics.

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