Refocus Afghanistan’s agriculture

by Jeremy Cherfas on April 19, 2011

We’ve occasionally, and perhaps too timidly, mentioned the futility of attempts to eradicate Papaver somniferum in Afghanistan. The crop is ideally suited to the terrain, and the product lucrative and in short supply globally. Also, illegal, at least in Afghanistan. But not in France, India or Australia. Over at Lawyers, Guns and Money, a group blog, Charli Carpenter makes a well-linked and well-argued case for reframing Afghanistan’s poppy problem (or, perhaps more accurately, the West’s problem with Afghanistan’s poppies) as an opportunity to improve global public health. One thing she doesn’t mention — and why would she? — is that poppies would probably be a lot more sustainable than most of the alternatives, needing less water and less land than, say, wheat or vegetables, and almost certainly displacing less local agricultural biodiversity.

h/t Sam Zeitlin

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EBH April 19, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Buy the crop. The US State Dept estimates that it would cost $100 million a year to buy the crop. That has to be substantially cheaper than the interdiction programmes in the West. The social cost is immeasurable. Buying the crop would eliminate the

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