Taliban ban on poppy cultivation

For violations, crop will be destroyed and offenders will be treated under Sharia

The Taliban announced on Sunday a ban on the cultiva tion of narcotics in Afghanis tan, the world’s biggest opi um producer.

“As per the decree of the supreme leader of the Islam ic Emirate of Afghanistan, all Afghans are informed that from now on, cultivation of poppy has been strictly pro hibited across the country,” according to an order from the Taliban’s supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada

“If anyone violates the de cree, the crop will be des troyed immediately and the violator will be treated ac cording to the Sharia law,” the order, announced at a news conference by the Mi nistry of Interior in Kabul, said. The order said the pro duction, use or transporta tion of other narcotics was also banned.

Drug control has been one major demand of the inter national community of the Islamist group, which took over the country in August and is seeking formal inter national recognition in order to wind back sanctions that are severely hampering banking, business and development.

The Taliban banned pop py growing towards the end of their last rule in 2000 as they sought international legitimacy, but faced a popu lar backlash and later mostly changed their stance, ac cording to experts.

Increased production

Afghanistan’s opium pro duction which the United Nations estimated was worth $1.4 billion at its height in 2017 has increased in re cent months, farmers and Taliban members said. The country’s dire economic situation has prompt ed residents of south-eastern provinces to grow the illicit crop that could bring them faster and higher returns than legal crops such as wheat.

Resistance expected

Taliban sources told Reuters they were anticipating tough resistance from some ele ments within the group against the ban on poppy and that there had been a surge in the number of farm ers cultivating poppy in re cent months.

A farmer in Helmand who spoke on condition of ano nymity said that in recent weeks prices of poppy had already more than doubled on rumours the Taliban would ban its cultivation. But he added that he needed to grow poppy to support hisfamily. “Other crops are just not profitable,” he said.

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