Kabul - On February 12, U.S. Ambassador Stephen G. McFarland and Afghanistan's Minister for Counter Narcotics, Zarar Moqbel Osmani signed an agreement allocating $18.2 million for programs supported by the Good Performers Initiative (GPI) awards. Following the signing, GPI awards were presented to 21 provinces that achieved poppy-free status in 2012, reduced poppy cultivation by more than ten percent from the previous year, or made other exceptional counter narcotics efforts during the cultivation season. Seventeen provinces earned $1 million awards for being poppy-free.
These agreements demonstrate the continuing commitment by the U.S. Government to partner with the Afghan people and their elected representatives to improve people's lives in villages, districts and across provinces.
The funds will be used to advance two major strategic objectives in Afghanistan. The first objective is to fight against poppy cultivation through an innovative political incentive program that delivers high impact development assistance. The second is to encourage Afghans to improve their communities by driving down poppy cultivation-and keeping it down.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Ambassador McFarland said, "This is an important opportunity to recognize the outstanding leadership of the Government of Afghanistan and the strong performance of numerous provinces in eliminating and reducing opium poppy cultivation in 2012."
The leadership of the provincial governors and the Ministry of Counter Narcotics in fighting the scourge of poppy cultivation has resulted in the GPI program funding more than 100 development projects in 33 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. Such projects include schools, transportation infrastructure, farm machinery projects, hospitals and drug treatment centers. Since the start of the GPI program in 2007, nationwide cultivation has decreased from 193,000 to 154,000 ha, and the number of poppy free provinces has increased from six to 17 in 2012.
The current $18.2 million funding will go towards the continued development support and assistance to provinces that have eliminated poppy cultivation thus contributing to a secure and stable Afghanistan.
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