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Economic opportunities for poor farmers' key to opium fight
06
Feb '08
Development solutions will be required to change economic incentives and wean Afghanistan's rural communities from dependence on opium production in the medium and long term, says a report released by the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) and the World Bank.

The report suggests there is much to be reaped from sustained investments in the rural agricultural economy and urges Afghanistan's foreign community to shop locally and encourage local production.

According to the report, entitled Afghanistan: Economic Incentives and Development Initiatives to Reduce Opium Production, such interventions will comprise an essential com ponent of Afghanistan's broader counter-narcotics strategy, also including law enforcement, political and administrative actions, improving security, better governance, awareness-building, and demand reduction and treatment.

Afghanistan produces and trades more than 90 percent of the world's illicit opium. The size of the opium economy is around 30 percent of licit GDP, and millions of Afghans benefit directly or indirectly from it. The economic challenge of opium is overwhelmingly a rural one, argues the report: opium is the most valuable agricultural activity, and it provides income and employment for hundreds of thousands of Afghans.

Launched at a meeting of international donors and the Government of Afghanistan in Tokyo, the report says the drug economy thrives in remote or insecure areas where markets for other crops and alternative livelihoods are lacking.

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