Poppy cultivation surges in Kandahar, Helmand

KABUL (Tolo News): The cultivation of poppy for opium production has surged in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar this year compared to previous years, farmers said. “There is nothing else to cultivate. We were growing wheat before. This year—we want to cultivate poppy. Previously they were asking for bribes every day but we don’t have that problem this year,” a farmer said.
TOLOnews reporter Abdullah Hamim paid a visit to the southern provinces and found that opium and other drugs are being sold in open markets. The south of Afghanistan, which is considered a fertile area to grow wheat and other products, is seeing a surge in poppy cultivation. The two provinces of Kandahar and Helmand have been recognized as one of the top poppy producers.
Mohammad Kareem is a farmer who has been growing poppy for the past 15 years. Kareem is expecting his harvest to be ready within the next month. “If we don’t cultivate poppy, we don’t get a good return, the wheat doesn’t provide a good income,” he said. “There are no restrictions this year. If the Taliban wanted to ban it, they must let us grow it this year at least,” said Peer Mohammad, a farmer.
The cultivation of poppy has caused many children to take time away from education to work in the poppy fields. The families of these children said that they are forced to send their children to work because they face severe poverty. “I have not studied at school because I was busy working in the fields,” a resident said. However, some farmers have planted wheat and other products instead of poppy in their farms. “Those who cultivate poppy, they suffer from poverty, and they think that they will earn more,” said Gul Mohammad, a farmer.