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Published: 15 November 2011

Major fall in opium production in Afghanistan

At 3 600 tonnes, opium production in Afghanistan in 2010 is estimated to have fallen to about half the level reached in the previous year. Among the causes suggested for this major reduction in the yield of the opium poppy crop are unfavourable weather conditions and the spread of poppy blight, a fungal infection, which affected opium fields in the major poppy-growing provinces, particularly Helmand and Kandahar (UNODC and MCN, 2010). The blight did not significantly change the area under opium cultivation, but had an impact on the quantity of opium produced.

The decline in crop yield also led to a dramatic rise in reported opium prices at harvest time. The average farm gate price of 1 kg of dry opium increased by a factor of 2.6, from USD 64 in 2009 to USD 169 in 2010 (UNODC and MCN, 2010). At the same time, the average price of heroin in Afghanistan increased by a factor of 1.4.

The high opium price may not last long. A price rise that occurred in 2004, when opium production fell due to disease, lasted less than a year (UNODC and MCN, 2010). The effects of the recent drop in opium production on the consumer markets, particularly in Europe, need to be followed closely.

UNODC and MCN (Government of Afghanistan ministry of counter narcotics) (2010), Afghan opium survey 2010, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Vienna. 

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Page last updated: Friday, 28 October 2011