This is because foreign military have started leaving the country and as they do drop Afghani farmers back into the hands of the Taliban.
Poppy production started going down starting in 2008 when there were eradication (burning opium crops) and incentive efforts to get Afghani farmers to switch to other kinds of crops.
But with the Taliban insurgents returning to the provinces they are now supporting opium farmers’ return to the valuable cash crop.
And when we say support, we mean with arms and guns. The Taliban actively fight government officials who try to eliminate poppy fields.
Prices this year range from $350 to $440 a pound.
Despite the religious prohibition, opium and heroin are not just a problem in the west. The drugs are also used by Afghanis, and opium is also heavily consumed by Iranians. This leads to a broad range of societal problems which we are sure readers are aware of.
For the Afghani farmers in the southern Kandahar and Helmand provinces, alternative crops to poppies which form the derivative of opium, do not compare. Farming wheat leaves them hungry, while opium creates a multi-billion dollar business, and the Taliban of course get their cut.
Someone who can help the Afghani farmers find a more productive and sustainable crop might very well earn the Nobel Prize. Maybe help them switch to medicinal marijuana?
Afghanistan is currently the world’s largest producer of opium, and it supplies about 75 percent of the global market.