The U.S. has decided to stop funding poppy field eradication in Afghanistan, declaring the policy a failure and a waste of money. Since 2003, opium production has gone up 40-fold in Afghanistan, making it the producer of 90 percent of the world’s heroin. But Britain, backed by the Afghan government, will continue destroying poppy fields as a way to stem the drug trade.
The British Government said destroying poppy fields remained a key deterrent to growers and one of the “seven pillars” of its anti-opium strategy in Helmand province, just a day after Richard Holbrooke, the US envoy to Afghanistan, said that destroying the crop only drove poor farmers to join the insurgency.
In a reversal of policy, he said the United States would stop funding poppy eradication and instead concentrate on encouraging farmers to grow alternative crops.