“The American-led mission in Afghanistan is all but abandoning efforts to destroy the poppy crops that provide the largest source of income to the insurgency, and instead will take significant steps to wean local farmers off the drug trade â€” including one proposal to pay them to grow nothing.
The strategy will shift from wiping out opium poppy crops, which senior officials acknowledged had served only to turn poor farmers into enemies of the central government in Kabul. New operations are already being mounted to attack not the crops, but the drug runners and the drug lords aligned with the insurgency.
…Past efforts that focused on eradicating the poppy crop in Afghanistan â€œwasted hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollarsâ€ and â€œdid not result in any damage to the Taliban â€” but they put farmers out of work and they alienated people and drove people into the arms of the Taliban,â€ Mr. Holbrooke said last month.
Afghanistan supplies 90 percent of the worldâ€™s heroin, and the drug trade is estimated to account for about half of Afghanistanâ€™s economy. Various official estimates say that the Taliban earn as much as $300 million annually from the opium trade"
2010-04-12 15:53:18 UTC