Export value of Afghan opium is falling, says UNODC

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The potential gross export value of Afghanistan's opiates is down 18%, from $3.4 billion in 2008 to $2.8 billion in 2009 - equivalent to around a quarter of the county's GDP, down from a third last year. This is the main finding of the Afghanistan Opium Survey 2009, issued today by UNODC. The decline can be attributed to lower opium cultivation, lower production, lower prices, and relatively higher GDP.

The Survey confirms that market forces are moving against the Afghan drugs trade as lower revenues and excess production have put a damper on supply. As already reported in September in the Summary Findings of this Survey, in 2009 opium cultivation in Afghanistan decreased by 22%, and production fell by 10% (to 6,900 tons). The number of people involved in opium cultivation (1.6 million) has dropped by one third, and the number of poppy-free provinces is up from 18 to 20.

This complete Afghanistan Opium Survey2009 goes into considerably more detail than the Summary Findings. It introduces new information, for example on heroin prices and counter-narcotics operations. Furthermore, it provides methodological evidence about how the information was derived.

Further progress depends on controlling corruption, not just drugs and insurgency.

UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa

"Military and market forces are reducing the impact of opium on Afghanistan's economy", said UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa. "I urge President Karzai to make integrity as high a priority as security - you can't have one without the other", said Mr. Costa.

"Annual fluctuations of opium cultivation and production do not tell the whole story", said the head of UNODC. "I hope that the new Afghan National Drug Control Strategy, currently under preparation, will reassert that success will come when Afghanistan's farmers have sustainable licit livelihoods, when drug traffickers no longer operate with impunity, and when people no longer have to pay bribes for basic services. The alternative of a society wracked by drugs, insurgency, and corruption is untenable."