After seizing power in Afghanistan, Taliban leaders seeking international acceptance have told farmers to stop growing poppies, residents of some major poppy growing areas say. As a result, raw opium prices have skyrocketed nationwide.
Recently, Taliban representatives have begun to inform villagers in the southern provinces of Kandahar, one of the country’s major opium-producing regions, that crops, an important part of the local economy, will be banned.
This followed a statement at a press conference in Kabul on August 18 that Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the new ruler of the country would not allow drug trafficking. Mr. Mujahid at the time did not provide details on how Islamist groups intend to enforce the ban.
Local farmers in Kandahar, Ursgan and Hermann said the price of raw opium tripled from about $ 70 to about $ 200 per kilogram due to uncertain future production. In the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, the price of opium has doubled, residents said. Raw opium is processed into heroin.
The Taliban has long been one of the largest beneficiaries of the drug industry, using taxation on the drug business to fund a 20-year rebellion, Western governments say. Afghanistan accounts for about 80% of the world’s illegal opiate exports, and the poppy planting season begins in about a month.