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Taliban orders ‘strict’ ban on opium poppy cultivation

WorldTaliban orders ‘strict’ ban on opium poppy cultivation

Kabul (Times Of Ocean)- A Taliban decree is outlawing the cultivation of opium poppy, in an effort to address international concerns related to drug abuse in the impoverished South Asian country.

The Taliban has banned the cultivation of opium poppy, in a bid to ease international concerns about drug control in the impoverished South Asian country.

“As per the decree of the supreme leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, all Afghans are informed that from now on, cultivation of poppy has been strictly prohibited across the country,” the group’s supreme leader Haibatullah Akhunzada said on Sunday.

“If anyone violates the decree, the crop will be destroyed immediately and the violator will be treated according to the Sharia law,” he added at a news conference in the capital, Kabul. The order also prohibited the production, use, or transportation of other narcotics.

As a major demand of the international community, the Taliban, who took over the country in August, is seeking formal recognition to end sanctions that are severely hindering banking, business, and development in the country.

Experts say the group banned poppy growing toward the end of its last rule in 2000 to gain international legitimacy, but faced a backlash and changed its stance.

Following the decree, Afghanistan’s acting Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi urged the international community to work with the country in the treatment of drug addicts and to help farmers diversify their businesses.

Poppy cultivation is a key source of income for many impoverished farmers in the country, which has been experiencing relative peace since the US-led foreign forces withdrew after 20 years of war and occupation.

Afghanistan’s opium production – estimated by the UN to be worth $1.4 billion at its peak last year – has increased in recent months, farmers and Taliban members told Reuters news agency.

Bringing faster financial returns than legal crops such as wheat, opium poppy cultivation became for farmers in the country’s southeast a way to survive amid a dire economic situation.

According to the UN, Afghanistan’s economy is in free fall as 23 million people face acute food shortages due to a severe humanitarian crisis.

UN chief Antonio Guterres said some Afghans are selling their children and body parts to get money for food.

Taliban sources told Reuters they expect stiff opposition from some elements within the group against the ban on poppy cultivation and that poppy cultivation has increased in recent months.

On rumours that the Taliban would ban poppy cultivation, a farmer in Helmand told Reuters that prices of poppy had already more than doubled in recent weeks. However, he explained that he had to grow poppy to support his family.

“Other crops are just not profitable,” he said.

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