Prices of Opium Increased in Afghanistan Indicating a Severe Humanitarian Crisis
September 30, 2021
While the country’s economy is on the verge of collapse, vendors at an opium market in southern Afghanistan say prices have skyrocketed since the Taliban took control.
Amanullah, who requested anonymity, plunges his knife into a large plastic bag filled with four kilograms of what appears to be brown mud and extracts a lump, which he places in a small cup suspended over a primus flame.The poppy resin boils and liquefies quickly, allowing him and his partner, Mohammad Masoom, to show buyers that their opium is pure.
“It is haram in Islam, but we don’t have any other option,” Masoom says at a market in Kandahar province’s arid plains of Howz-i-Madad.
The price of opium, which is converted into heroin in Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Iran before flooding the European market, has more than tripled since the Taliban overran Kabul on August 15.Smugglers are now paying Masoom $100 per kilogram, according to him. It has a street value of more than $50 per gramme in Europe.
He said the price prior to the Taliban takeover was only a third of what he can make now, as he sat beneath a canvas suspended from four stakes to protect the precious wares from the scorching sun.
Hundreds of producers, vendors, and buyers converse over green tea around sacks of opium and hashish at the market, discussing the skyrocketing prices.Weather, insecurity, political unrest, and border closures can all have an impact on the ever-changing opium price, but everyone seems to agree that it was a single statement made by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid last month that pushed prices up.
He told the world at the time that the Taliban did not want “any narcotics produced,” but that international support was required to allow farmers to move away from the trade.The rumor that a ban on poppy cultivation was imminent spread throughout the province, which is home to the Taliban and is the country’s opium production and drug trafficking center.
During the Taliban’s last term in power, in 2000, they declared poppy cultivation to be forbidden under Islam and virtually eradicated the crop.Poppy farming resurfaced after the US-led overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, despite the West’s millions of dollars spent promoting alternatives such as saffron.The Taliban then turned to opium production to fund their rebellion as they transitioned from ruling Afghanistan to fighting US-led forces.
According to the United Nations, the opium trade provided half of their revenue in 2016.According to the UN, Afghanistan’s opium production has remained high year after year, with 6,300 tonnes produced last year alone.Farmers in the south say it’s impossible to eradicate the trade, which the United Nations estimates is worth $2 billion per year in Afghanistan.
The Taliban have been avoiding the issue of banning the lucrative practice, despite the UN warning that a third of the country’s population is facing famine.
Maulvi Noor Mohammad Saeed, the head of Kandahar’s culture department, told AFP in his office thatopium production is haram and bad for people.However, he stated that outlawing production would be contingent on the amount of aid received.We will ban opium if the international community is willing to assist farmers in not growing poppy.