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Poppy grown on 20,000 acres of land in Balkh

Poppy grown on 20,000 acres of land in Balkh

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On
Aug 13, 2017 - 16:10

MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): Poppy has been cultivated on more than 20,000 acres of land in northern Balkh province and so far 336 tones of the crop’s yield has been collected, a civil society group said on Sunday.

Khat Civil Society organization, which works against poppy cultivation and use of drugs, said poppy cultivation and its yield has direct connection with insecurity, illegal armed groups and open sale of arms in the province.

Abdul Qader Mesbah, Khat organization head, told Pajhwok Afghan News they were investigating cultivation and smuggling of poppy in the northern zone.

He said this year poppy was cultivated on 20,000 acres of land in eight districts of Balkh, with the government silently observing everything.

Mesbah said his information showed so far 336 tones of opium had been collected from this year’s poppy crop.

Chamtal is one of Balkh districts where most of the poppy is cultivated. Mesbah said growing poppy and smuggling drugs had direct impact on insecurity.

Besides threatening human lives, the illicit substance had direct connection with sale and purchase of arms and protection rebels, he said.

Ghafar, a resident of Chamtal district, said he cultivated poppy on 2.5 acres of land last year but this year he grew the crop on 15 acres of land.

“We can’t dare grow poppy for the fear the government would flatten the crop. There was rumor that the government has allowed growing poppy and may not react, so we also grew,” he said.

Gul Khan, a resident of Chahar Boluk district, said big smugglers lived in insecure areas and transferred the illicit substance to other areas though small smugglers.

Mesbah said the government was silent over the massive cultivation of poppy in the province.

Officials from the provincial government strongly rejected the growing of poppy on a large scale in Balkh.

Governor’s spokesman Munir Farhad acknowledged poppy had been cultivated in Balkh but rejected the amount claimed by Khat organization.

He said provincial officials were committed to eradicating poppy in Balkh and for this purpose, poppy crop on 150 acres of land was destroyed this year.

He asked Khat organization to explain how and from where they collected information about cultivation of poppy in the province.

nh/ma

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