Taliban Vows to Wean Country Off Opium Trade, Reportedly Tells Farmers Poppy Growing is Banned

After the Taliban takeover, the Islamic group’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid vowed to crack down on the production of narcotics, saying “nobody can be involved” in the heroin trade, which has been a key source of funding for the group.

Afghanistan’s new rulers, the Taliban, while ostensibly seeking to portray a more moderate image by Western standards has vowed to police poppy cultivation more heavily.

Leaders of the Islamist group, which took control of the country in the wake of US and NATO forces pulling out, have been telling farmers in the southern province of Kandahar to stop cultivating opium poppies, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing local residents. Farmers are unhappy but have no choice but to comply should the Taliban begin to enforce the ban, the outlet cites a Kandahar grower as saying.

He added that the Taliban has assured people that they would have an “alternative crop,” such as saffron, to grow. Saffron, however, is not nearly as lucrative.

The ban on a crop that has traditionally been a crucial part of the local economy has resulted in prices of raw opium skyrocketing across the country. Local farmers in poppy-growing regions like Kandahar, Uruzgan, and Helman provinces said raw opium prices have tripled, from about $70 to about $200 per kilogram. In the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, the price of opium has doubled, according to locals. The poppy-planting season is due start in about a month.

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