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Source Countries and
Drug Transit Zones: Afghanistan

Quick Facts
Afghanistan accounts for 93% of global opium production, according to the U.N. Source

The resolute efforts of the Afghan people, combined with international assistance, have produced substantial counternarcotics progress in vast areas of Afghanistan, but significant challenges remain. Due to the lack of many viable alternative crops to opium, the limited enforcement capacity of the central government, and the growing insurgency, Afghanistan is becoming practically the exclusive supplier of the world's deadliest drug.

In 2007, the number of poppy-free provinces increased from 12 to 15, and opium poppy cultivation decreased significantly in another 8 provinces. However, progress in these areas was more than offset by increased opium poppy cultivation in the southwest region, resulting in the production of 8,000 tons of opium in 2007, 42 percent more than in 2006. Approximately 86 percent of Afghanistan's opium poppy cultivation occurred in just 6 provinces with approximately half taking place in a single province, Helmand.

While Afghan opium cultivation is not yet a major source of the heroin on American streets, it is crucial that the U.S. continue to assist the Afghan government in its fight against the illegal narcotics trade. The illegal drug economy contributes to an environment of corruption and instability that fund insurgent and terrorist organizations threatening the democratically elected Afghan Government. The U.S. counternarcotics strategy in Afghanistan pursues the following objectives: (1) dramatically increase development assistance to incentivize licit development while simultaneously amplifying the scope and intensity of both interdiction and eradication operations; (2) coordinate counternarcotics (CN) and counterinsurgency (COIN) planning and operations in a manner not previously accomplished, with a particular emphasis on integrating drug interdiction into the counterinsurgency mission; (3) encourage consistent, sustained political will for the counternarcotics effort among the Afghan government, our allies, and international civilian and military organizations.

The complexity of the drug problem in Afghanistan demands a balanced counternarcotics approach that melds enforcement and economic development assistance. In the coming years, we need to provide additional support to the Government of Afghanistan in creating both incentives for opium growers to participate in licit livelihoods through the provision of additional assistance, while simultaneously strengthening the disincentives to participation in the narcotics industry through increased interdiction, eradication, and other law enforcement efforts.

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