HC Deb 16 September 2003 vol 410 cc673-4W
Mr. Caton

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the changes in quantities of opium produced in Afghanistan since the overthrow of the Taliban. [127172]

Mr. Rammell

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conducts an annual survey into the level of opium poppy cultivation and production in Afghanistan. These two sets of figures need to be read together to provide full information about trends in poppy production. It has reported levels of cultivation and production over the past 5 years as follows:

Year Hectares Tonnes
1998 64,000 2,700
1999 91,000 4,600
2000 82,000 3,300
2001 8,000 185
2002 74,000 3,400

The UNODC figures for 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 were all recorded under the Taliban regime. The figures in 1999 are the highest UNODC have recorded in Afghanistan. The low level of cultivation and low production figure in 2001 reflect the Taliban ban on opium cultivation; the ban did not however address the underlying causes of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan and was enforced with mix of threat and bribery.

The UNODC is in the process of preparing the report of the 2003 survey on behalf of the Afghan government. It will be published in the autumn.