HL Deb 12 May 2003 vol 648 c3WA
Lord Blaker asked Her Majesty's Government

Further to the answer given by the Baroness Amos on 28 April (HL Deb, col. 445) regarding the cultivation of opium poppies in Afghanistan, whether they wish to make any correction to that answer; and what are the figures in hectares for such cultivation in the years 2001 and 2002 respectively. [HL2623]

Baroness Amos

On 28 April I undertook to provide further detail on opium cultivation in Afghanistan if necessary. This was contained in my letter to the noble Lord on 29 April.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which conducts an annual survey into the level of opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, reported that the level of cultivation in 2002 was 74,000 hectares (compared to 91,000 hectares in 1999, 82,000 hectares in 2000 and 8,000 hectares in 2001). The UNODC is in the process of carrying out the 2003 survey. Its results will be published in the autumn. In March 2003, the UNODC published an Opium Rapid Assessment Survey for Afghanistan. This gave an early insight into the pattern of opium poppy cultivation for the 2002–03 growing season but did not predict the level of opium poppy cultivation for 2003 or beyond. It did find however that there was a trend for farmers to cultivate opium poppy in increasingly remote and inaccessible areas.

President Karzai signalled his determination to rid Afghanistan of drugs by banning the production, processing and trafficking of drugs in January 2002. A compensated eradication programme to tackle the 2002 opium poppy crop followed this, which the UK provided financial and logistical support for. The Afghan authorities believe this led to the destruction of 17,300 hectares of opium poppy, nearly 25 per cent of the poppy crop. This was the figure I referred to in the House on 28 April (Official Report, Col. 445)