February 14th, 2010
10:02 PM ET

CNN Fact Check: Has poppy production in Afghanistan decreased?

As NATO begins one of its biggest offensives in Afghanistan since the beginning of the war, coalition troops face a multitude of challenges. Helmand province is known for its opium production and as a hub of Taliban activity. Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," retired Gen. James Jones, President Barack Obama's national security adviser, said, "One of the ancillary benefits of where this operation is being conducted is in the heart of Helmand province, and that is the center mass of the drug production. Happily, last year for the first time in several years, the poppy production went down and wheat production went up, and so we'll see what happens this year."

Fact Check: Has poppy production decreased in a region of Afghanistan known for its drug links?
- According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), "90 percent of the world's opium comes from Afghanistan."
- A study from the UNODC found that nationwide in Afghanistan the area under opium poppy cultivation decreased 22 percent  last year, and opium production was down 10 percent. The report covered the planting cycle from May 2008  through June 2009. A more recent assessment from this month finds that opium production will likely remain stable in 2010.
- Poppy production by hectare peaked in 2007, and had increased most years since 2001.
- Specifically with regard to Helmand province, the area where the operation is under way, the region saw the most significant opium poppy decline in 2009, with cultivation decreasing by a third. The UNODC report credited
strong governmental leadership, incentives for legal crops, and "a more aggressive counter-narcotics offensive."

Bottom Line: The push in the Helmand province is intended to help secure an area that is known for its opium production. Last year poppy production in Afghanistan declined by about one fifth.

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Kevin

    Two words to solve the problem. Agent Orange.

    March 3, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Holly D Trott

    Chris, perhaps we should first stop paying our US farmers from not growing x amount of certain crops. Or perhaps we should also stop allowing taxpayers to put a cow or two on their property and take a tax deduction for owning a farm and also then placing farm state tags on their car with further deductions. Your figures are misleading unless you have taken into consideration the rate of inflation...oops! that's right no increase in living for social security. If the Taliban had not been subsidized during the Reagon administration via Pakistan maybe we would not be in this position now. Russia started all this in the first place. Any suggestions as to how we can have them repay us? Another oops! They are basically bankrupt.......
    When you can actually produce a solution to fighting the insurgents and include in the plan how to prevent them on our soil, please keep me informed. And we are not really in there to just stop the growing of the crop. Check the rest of CNN and other sites to discover what our intel and other countries were doing before this mission and now.

    February 15, 2010 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. flcracker

    Do you really think they will grow wheat ???

    February 15, 2010 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jerry black

    A- what- who the hell cares? It has nothing to do with america we can't even take care of ourselves little lone several other countrys at one time. If someone killed your family and friends then took your livelyhood away, what wood you do? would you hate them and want to kill them? Good thing there so far away they can't reach us and the rest of the middle east too

    February 15, 2010 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Insan Mukmin

    How can the international community solve Afghanistan's drug problem when drug warlords are part of the ruling government of Hamid Karzai and opium production is the main national product? Afghanistan is a narco-state and solving this would require huge amounts of money which nobody is willing to fork out.

    February 15, 2010 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. A. Smith, Oregon

    One of the possible reason why Opium-Poppy production went down was that Bush-Cheney is no longer in the White House. During their horrific administration, Opium-Poppy fields expanded some 300% to push Afghanistan to producing 98% of all the Opium-Heroin in the entire world! The CIA-Bush-Cheney-Opium-Heroin connection is definitely something that INTERPOL has looked long and hard at for the past 7 years. And why not, Interpol often has to deal with the horrific violence and mass addiction that Heroin has on rural cities and county's in Europe and around the world.

    February 15, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chip H

    It's all perfectly well and good for Karzai to demand additional US funds to pay the Taliban to 'lay down their arms' and lay about Kabul on the US welfare tax dole, but it's quite another thing to go into a farming community and wipe out their crop, just because YOU think it's an illegal crop, their very lives depend on it, whether they live one more year as freemen, or become indentured sharecroppers, depends on whether we pay every farmer for their crop. Anything less is just a slow-motion form of genocide, and it's not like the OEF-A is poor, not when US taxpayers are being tapped $130,000,000,000 a year for this GWOT2, when Viet Nam only cost $65,000,000,000, in the same dollars, against 400,000 NVietnamese troops. Something is SNAFUBAR. We need more beancounters and less Round Up exterminators.

    February 15, 2010 at 4:11 am | Report abuse |
  8. Holly D Trott

    Thank you for checking the facts but I am perplexed as to why these facts would surprise anyone. The obvious reason for securing this area would indeed appear to be to slow the production of opium.However, throughout history, when has an military offensive objective been restricted to a singular goal. It should be deduced from the recent intel regarding the insurgent captured crossing from Afghanistan to Yemenin possession of a list of about 500 phone numbers of fellow insurgents that our military's strategic planning included intel as this. One can rationalize that their insistance of forewarning the public on the surge was not solely to prevent the lose of civilian lives but to also to enhance their ability to track and locate insurgents prior to and after the surge.

    February 15, 2010 at 2:00 am | Report abuse |
  9. devis

    Thanks to all who contribute something each day.to this planet to make it a garden of Eden again especially to the brave troops who are in Afhganistan.

    February 14, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |