(The Bandits ) : Narcotics

1-Afghan opium prices soar as production rises

2-Opium cultivation and production in South-East Asia give cause for concern

3- UNODC strengthens counter-narcotics assistance to Afghanistan and neighbouring countries
4 – Afghanistan , Iran and Pakistan deepen cooperation to combat threats posed by illicit drugs

1-Afghan opium prices soar as production rises

12 January 2012 – Vienna – The full Afghan Opium Survey for 2011, ( to download : http://www.unodc.org/documents/crop-monitoring/Afghanistan/Afghanistan_opium_survey_2011_web.pdf ) points to a dramatic 133 per cent increase in the farm-gate value of opium compared with 2010 (the summary findings of the survey were issued in September 2011). Released today by the Ministry of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the survey reveals that the farm-gate income of opium probably amounted to over US$ 1.4 billion, equivalent to 9 per cent of the GDP of Afghanistan in 2011.

Even more striking is the potential income derived from opium production. Export earnings from Afghan opiates may be worth US$2.4 billion – equivalent to 15 per cent of GDP. Such vast sums cannot easily be earned in other ways. “Opium is therefore a significant part of the Afghan economy and provides considerable funding to the insurgency and fuels corruption,” said Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC.

Almost 60 per cent of farmers surveyed in 2011 said they were primarily motivated by the high prices fetched by opium poppy cultivation, which will continue to remain attractive if it reaps bumper profits, according to the survey. Compounding the problem was a simultaneous drop in the price of wheat. In 2011, the gross income from opium was 11 times higher than that from wheat, the biggest difference in income since 2003.

In 2010 plant diseases wiped out much of the opium yield and the resulting scarcity of fresh opium triggered a speculative rise in prices. While higher prices had been expected in 2011 after opium yields returned to pre-blight levels, the 2011 values far exceeded expectations. The gross per-hectare income from opium cultivation (US$ 10,700) therefore also reached levels not observed since 2003.

Around 90 per cent of the world’s opium comes from Afghanistan. The survey showed that poppy-crop cultivation spread over 131,000 hectares in 2011, 7 per cent higher than in 2010. The amount of opium produced increased by 61 per cent , from 3,600 metric tons in 2010 to 5,800 metric tons in 2011.

“The Afghan Opium Survey 2011 sends a strong message that we cannot afford to be lethargic in the face of this problem. We thank the Government of Afghanistan for the leadership and dedication already shown, but a stronger commitment from a broad range of national and international partners is needed to turn this worrying trend around” said Mr. Fedotov, referring to rising production.

UNODC recently launched an ambitious regional programme for Afghanistan and neighbouring countries, which focuses on counter-narcotics, as well as a new country programme to support alternative livelihoods for opium poppy farmers. In addition, the UNODC-brokered Paris Pact, an initiative involving more than 50 States, provides a platform to promote coordinated measures to counter drug-trafficking from Afghanistan. Next month in Vienna, the Paris Pact Governments will meet at a Ministerial level to consider the next steps. “With the transition of responsibilities towards 2014 in mind, our message is clear. Counter-narcotics is not the exclusive domain of specialized units alone, but the shared responsibility of everybody concerned with security, stability, governance and development in Afghanistan and the wider region,” said Mr. Fedotov

2-Opium cultivation and production in South-East Asia give cause for concern

15 December 2011 – Vienna/Bangkok – (UNODC) – The 2011 South-East Asia Opium Survey ,( to load at : http://www.unodc.org/documents/eastasiaandpacific//2011/12/ops-2011/Opium_Survey_2011_-_Full.pd ),flaunched today in Bangkok by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) points to “significant increases” in opium poppy cultivation in Myanmar and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR).

“The high prices for opium in the Lao DPR and Thailand, as well as steep price increases in Myanmar, are making production attractive to farmers”, said Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), calling for the creation of alternative livelihoods to wean farmers off opium poppy cultivation. “Although the international community has supported alternative development for many years, and with great success, there is a need for increased investment”, said the Executive Director.

As seen in other parts of the world, there was a strong correlation between insecurity and opium poppy cultivation. In Myanmar, where an estimated 35 per cent of surveyed households struggled to feed themselves, the scarcity of food also drove cash-strapped farmers to grow poppy crop.

In 2011, opium poppy cultivation in the region jumped from some 42,000 hectares (ha) to almost 48,000 ha, a 16 per cent increase over 2010. Overall, cultivation has doubled in South-East Asia since 2006. Myanmar accounted for 91 per cent of cultivation in this region, with Lao PDR taking 9 per cent.

Myanmar remained the second largest poppy-crop grower and opium producer in the world after Afghanistan. Cultivation in Myanmar climbed for the fifth year in a row, up, in 2011, by 14 per cent over the previous year. Lao PDR saw an even steeper rise of 38 per cent. Myanmar was responsible for 9 per cent of global opium production, down from 12 per cent in 2010, but that downward revision was due to a 61 per cent increase in yields in Afghanistan.

In 2011, opium prices in South-East Asia showed a mixed pattern but remained high on average. In Lao PDR, prices were stable at US$ 1,640 per kg. However, in Myanmar, prices rose sharply in 2011, from around US$ 300 per kg in 2010 to US$ 450 per kg.

“In Myanmar, there is a need for more programmes that support alternative development for opium poppy growers. These programmes must also take into account the issues of poverty reduction, environmental protection, food security and improved social and economic conditions as key objectives. Indeed, these projects are a necessity because reductions in illicit crop cultivation and opium production can bring tangible benefits to the lives of ordinary people,” said Mr. Fedotov

3- UNODC strengthens counter-narcotics assistance to Afghanistan and neighbouring countries

7 December – Vienna – (UNODC) – High-level government ministers from Afghanistan and neighbouring countries today launched the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2011- 2014 Regional Programme to boost coordinated counter-narcotics efforts and regional stability. The launch follows the International Conference on Afghanistan held in the German city of Bonn to set the future course for Afghanistan after the 2014 handover of power to the Afghan Government.

“Given the gradual disengagement of the International Security Assistance Force, the international community will increasingly look to the United Nations to take on additional responsibilities in supporting Afghanistan,” said UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov.

The agreement by eight national officials to cement cooperation, especially in information-sharing, is unprecedented, said Mr. Fedotov. It is a measure of the trust built up by UNODC over the past few years that parties have come together in Vienna, putting aside their suspicions. In attendance were Ministers, Deputy Ministers and high-level representatives from Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Afghanistan and countries in West and Central Asia have been involved in various UNODC-brokered partnerships to improve their cross-border counter-narcotics capacities.

The Regional Programme is a strategic framework for the work of UNODC and multilateral partners, and focuses largely on counter-narcotics and the rule of law in order to respond effectively to drug trafficking and organized crime. Building on past successes, examples of future work may include training counter-narcotics law enforcement officials; conducting joint raids, drug seizures and border patrols; and tackling cross-border illicit money flows.

In parallel, a new country programme of UNODC for Afghanistan (2012-2014) will support the provinces, providing alternative livelihoods for opium poppy farmers, expanded health care, drug demand reduction and HIV prevention, while enhancing the capacity of the Ministry of Counter-Narcotics to conduct research, surveys and analysis.

Over the past five years, Afghanistan has produced some 90 per cent of the world’s illicit opium. The UNODC Afghan Opium Survey 2011 showed that this year, Afghanistan witnessed a sharp increase in opium production, higher prices for the crop and a flourishing drugs trade that continued to fuel insecurity.

“Because the coming years are absolutely crucial for Afghanistan’s future, we must produce a response based on shared responsibility and concrete action, “said the Executive Director.

4 – Afghanistan , Iran and Pakistan deepen cooperation to combat threats posed by illicit drugs

Kabul – 28 November – Amid concerns over the rising production and value of Afghan opium, Ministers from Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan met today in Kabul to enhance responses to regional security challenges. “More than ever, we must emphasize shared responsibility in our strategies to counter shared threats”, said Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

The parties are meeting in the framework of the UNODC-brokered Triangular Initiative, designed to strengthen drug control among the three countries most seriously affected by Afghan opium. The initiative promotes information exchange and intelligence-led operations targeting the major transnational networks, while building confidence.

More than 90 per cent of the world’s opium comes from Afghanistan, with most of it transiting through Iran and Pakistan. Drugs pose a threat to the health and security of all three countries, and many others beyond. “At the International Conference on Afghanistan next week in Bonn, I hope to encourage the international community to bolster counter-narcotics as an essential element in ensuring a better future for Afghanistan and its neighbours”.

All three parties have been boosting their cross-border counter-narcotics capacities. But national law enforcement authorities alone cannot effectively surmount the challenges posed by their porous borders with Afghanistan and the testing terrain. The Triangular Initiative has been gaining momentum since the launch of the initiative in 2007. Its joint planning cell has been established in Tehran to enhance analytical and operational capacity and to launch joint operations. It has notched up successes. Since 2009, 12 drug control operations coordinated by the joint planning cell have resulted in the seizures of several tons of illicit drugs and the arrest of many drug traffickers.

“But much more needs to be done,” said Mr. Fedotov. “The joint planning cell must be the engine of the Triangular Initiative. Joint patrols should become routine, not exceptional events”. He encouraged the appointment of permanent liaison officers to the joint planning cell and the conduct of the first joint operation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. In a positive step forward, the Border Liaison Office at Torkham, on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, had become fully functional in February 2011, Mr. Fedotov noted.

Additionally, joint operations and patrols could be planned along key maritime drug trafficking routes. UNODC stood ready to extend legislative assistance to the parties in drug-related matters, countering illicit money flows and confiscating the assets of drug traffickers, said Mr. Fedotov.

©2012 UNDOC