This is a sad milestone for the American attempt to wipe out the opium farming in Afghanistan. While American troops fought the taliban, others declared war on the lucrative drug so attractive to Afghan farmers in a similar manner that drug cartels in Mexico make it attractive. In Afghanistan, America paid Afghan farmers not to plant opium plants and instead wheat or other sustainable crops there. However, the amount of money the illiterate Afghan can earn growing opium vastly surpasses what America was willing to pay them to grow "good" crops.
Of course, if that did not work, and obviously it failed, the troops would raid fields and slash and burn them, This really was just a band aid approach, which had to be repeated over and over. Changing the hearts and minds of the Afghan farmer has proven impossible because of the drug money paid for opium. Burning the fields also backfired and made former friends become enemies,
In a new UN report, the amount of land growing opium has actually increased by 36% to 516,000 acres. This is a historical record! Another record was that this year, destroying the opium fields was down 25%, only 18,162 acres were destroyed.
Worse, it shows that once America exits, the country will rely mostly on opium sales and the associated drug trade or dominated by this. The reason is that the country is the world's source for opiates by harvesting a whopping 5500 tons of it in this year. The report is grim about it be curtailed by the Afghan DEA and expects that after 2014, even more acreage will be growing poppies.
Part of the problem and preference for the opium poppy fields is that wheat and corn require much more water than poppies do. The farmers simply lack this necessary ingredient to sustain legal crops.
So, expect the Afghanistan economy to be largely driven by this drug money coming from organized crime.
perrya (author) on November 14, 2013:
@Dean, I totally agree. What a waste. I always said that this war was going to end like Vietnam- just a lesser failure. Now we buy clothes and shoes made in Vietnam.LOL.
cheaptrick from the bridge of sighs on November 14, 2013:
Aren't drugs like morphine derived from opium?I think Hitchens was spot on.Also,I've read that opium production was near zero when the Taliban ran the country;I believe they are the most likely heirs of the Afghan government when America exits.Well done.
kschang from San Francisco, CA, USA on November 14, 2013:
What happened to the saffron farms? That supposedly grows GREAT in the opium fields, and saffron is worth MORE THAN GOLD
CJ Kelly from the PNW on November 13, 2013:
I always thought that the late Christopher Hitchens had the best idea for Afghanistan's poppy harvest: the U.N. should set up an organization to buy the opium and then sell it to big pharma (not sure what they could do with it). Sounds nuts, but it might depress the price a little and stop some producers. Voted up.