2005-04-21

 

Poppy eradication program and farmers Resistance

The poppy eradication program has begun in different provinces. In Herat province the farmers attacked a police contingent after it started destroying their corps. Farmers, who wielded sticks and stones, injured at least two policemen. The farmers who have not yet received any aid from the government or the international community, have reason for resisting the anti-eradication program. Although President Karzai declared fight against the rising narco-production, farmers say that their resistance will continue until they get assistance from the government.

The second phase of poppy eradication program has begun in the eastern province of Laghman, in the mountainous area of the province. The officials could not start the eradication process earlier this month because the fields were covered by the snow and the road was blocked and it was not possible to destroy them. People in the area are not so happy with the process. They say the government should build us bridges, roads, dams and help us to get chemical fertilizer first, and then they should destroy our
poppy fields.

Officials have promised to do all this but failed to fulfill their promise. On Thursday, the Afghan farmers challenged President Karzai's plans to destroy the world's largest narcotics industry. Afghan opium growers vowed to protect their poppy corp from an ongoing eradication campaign. In Kandahar province the eradication program was suspended on it's first day when police sent to destroy the poppy fields clashed with the farmers. The protesters started throwing rocks at the police. At least 7 people were injured. An angry farmer said "If they destroy my poppy fields I will throw my children into the river". Another farmer said "If they bring tractors to destroy my fields I will lie down in front of them. They will have to kill me before they get into my field.". The farmers from Kandahar province said they would be ruined if they lost their crops, and claimed they have not seen any sign of government aid promised to help the farmers. Some farmers say they borrowed money for diesel just to irrigate their fields and they will not lose them for nothing. According to the farmers, three men have died and many were injured during the resistance against the police. I had another blog about the poppies last month and some people asked in their comments why the farmers don't cultivate saffron or cotton. I think it's a very good idea for farmers to grow cotton or saffron but the government or ministry of agriculture should provide some short courses to persuade and provide aid for farmers to grow useful plants.

Comments:
Khoda ro shokr, Vahid!
Merci az in khabarhaye kheili khob, i just hope that there will be more effort put into stopping the mass exports, though malom hast ke akhondha khodeshon in chizharo vared mikonan, va arzon arzon be javanae Irani mifroshan :S

anyway, thank you and bedroud.
 
The world should provide more financial aid for these farmers. I hope US will do it as well.
 
norman, unfortunately the "war on drugs" is not as well-thought-out as the war on terror. The US tends to see crop destruction as the end-all and be-all of the fight. In Mexico or Colombia, where anti-American forces predominate, it is easy to cite lack of access as a reason for not training farmers and introducing other crops. In Afghanistan, however, we have a friendly government and a populace that is generally neutral if not well-disposed toward us. It's a shame that we're still only focusing on stopping production instead of retraining programs to help farmers either find a different crop or get into a different business.
 
What were they growing under the Taliban? Our media has bent over backwards assuring the world that the Taliban didn't allow any drug harvesting when they were in charge.
 
This problem is purely Karzai's fault. It is true that Afghani's grow the opium but the west is buying and using it.
If the Afghani farmers can't get any help through regular political channels, Karzai should simply go to the floor of the United Nations armed with the amount of opium consumed by each country and make a statement that if those consumer countries do not come up with money yesterday, the Afghani government will help the farmers sell the drugs. People can not be expected to starve. There is a precident for this here in the US. President Clinton was seriously considering making tobacco regulated by the FDA. The Governor of Kentucky (also a Democrat) stated to president Clinton if he did this it would ruin the farmers. He also told President Clinton the State of Kentucky would no longer consider eradicating marijuana farms a priority. President Clinton saw the light and forgot about the regulation of tobacco anymore. That's what needs to be done in Afghanistan and it will solve the problem immediately.
 
I do not find any evidence that the destruction of poppy fields in Afghanistan is a stated, let alone funded, goal of the official U.S. War on Drugs policy.

Having said that, Karzai should subsidize the poppy farmers to grow something else. There is indeed plenty of precedence for this all over the world. The U.S. has contributed tens of millions of dollars to this end through the USAID organization.
 
Saffron, yummy! And it doesn't need irrigation like cotton or poppies.
 
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