Bad Seeds

The Friday File: Opium production in Afghanistan jumped 61% in ’11 to 5,800 metric tons. The farm value is $1.4 billion, 9% of GDP! The street value, which includes profits for the Taliban, refiners, warlords, politicians and cartels, is much higher. Worse, area under cultivation (324K acres) is double what it was in ’02 despite spending hundreds of millions on eradication, and efforts to encourage farmers to grow other crops. The reason for the failure: persistent demand.

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