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Afghanistan: Still the King of Opium
Afghan farmers harvest opium sap from a poppy field in Surkh Rod District, of Nangarhar province near Jalalabad on May 5, 2015. Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has reached a record high in 2014, a UN report has revealed, highlighting the failure of the US-led campaign to crack down on the lucrative crop. The total area under cultivation was about 224,000 hectares (553,500 acres) in 2014, a seven percent increase on last year, according to the Afghanistan Opium Survey released by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. AFP PHOTO / Noorullah Shirzada (Photo credit should read Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images)

Afghanistan: Still the King of Opium

Afghanistan remains awash in opium, despite $8.2 billion in American taxpayer dollars spent since 2002 to curb its rampant drug production and trade, a U.S. reconstruction watchdog concluded Thursday.

The country’s own drug use rates remain among the highest in the world, according to a new quarterly report by the congressionally mandated Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, or SIGAR.

A 2014 World Drug Report by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime confirmed Afghanistan again leads the world in opium production and for the third consecutive year saw more land being used for poppy farming — a record 520,000 acres — despite U.S. efforts.

But it looks like the U.S. military has had about enough. With 9,800 American troops focused on training Afghan forces and running counterterrorism missions before withdrawing in December 2016, SIGAR reported that the Defense Department will use $2.8 billion earmarked for counternarcotics activities this year to pay for other needs.

Source: Afghanistan: Still the King of Opium | Foreign Policy