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Where have all the flowers gone? Evaluation of the Taliban crackdown against poppy cultivation in Afghanistan


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This study presents what we believe to be the first formal evaluation of the Taliban crackdown against opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. Afghanistan was the main source of the world's illicit heroin supply for most of the 1990s. From late 2000 and the year that followed, the Taliban enforced a ban on poppy farming via threats, forced eradication, and public punishment of transgressors. The result was a 99% reduction in the area of opium poppy farming in Taliban-controlled areas. The evaluation uses multiple comparison areas: the non-Taliban area of Afghanistan, neighbouring countries, the non-contiguous comparison area of Myanmar (Burma), and, the rest of the world. Alternative possible causes of the reduction such as drought, migration or changes in global opium markets are reviewed and excluded. It is concluded that the reduction in Afghan poppy cultivation was due to the enforcement action by the Taliban. Globally, the net result of the intervention produced an estimated 35% reduction in poppy cultivation and a 65% reduction in the potential illicit heroin supply from harvests in 2001. Though Afghan poppy growing returned to previous levels after the fall of the Taliban government, this may have been the most effective drug control action of modem times. (c) 2004 Published by Elsevier B.V.
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International Journal of Drug Policy 16 (2005) 81–91
Where have all the flowers gone?: evaluation of the
Taliban crackdown against opium poppy
cultivation in Afghanistan
Graham Farrella,, John Thorneb
aDepartment of Social Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 3TU, UK
bDepartment of Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, USA
Received 3 February 2004; received in revised form 16 July 2004; accepted 26 July 2004
Afghanistan was the main source of the world’s illicit heroin supply for most of the 1990s. From late 2000 and the year that followed, the
Taliban enforced a ban on poppy farming via threats, forced eradication, and public punishment of transgressors. The result was a 99%
reduction in the area of opium poppy farming in Taliban-controlled areas. The evaluation uses multiple comparison areas: the non-Taliban
area of Afghanistan, neighbouring countries, the non-contiguous comparison area of Myanmar (Burma), and, the rest of the world. Alternative
possible causes of the reduction such as drought, migration or changes in global opium markets are reviewed and excluded. It is concluded
that the reduction in Afghan poppy cultivation was due to the enforcement action by the Taliban. Globally, the net result of the intervention
produced an estimated 35% reduction in poppy cultivation and a 65% reduction in the potential illicit heroin supply from harvests in 2001.
Though Afghan poppy growing returned to previous levels after the fall of the Taliban government, this may have been the most effective
drug control action of modern times.
© 2004 Published by Elsevier B.V.
Keywords: Taliban; Opium poppy; Afghanistan
There has been much reported in the popular media about
the Taliban government’s enforcement of a ban on opium
poppy growing in Afghanistan during 2000 and 2001, and
the resumption of growing in 2002 with the overthrow of
the regime (Bearak, 2001; Crossette, 2001; McCarthy, 2001;
Salopek,2001; The Economist,2002). However,theenforce-
mentof the ban has not, to the knowledgeof the authors, been
formally evaluated. This study aims to fill that gap.
During the 1990s, Afghanistan was the main source of
the world’s illicit heroin supply, accounting for an estimated
70% in 2000 (UNODC, 2003a, 2003b, p. 89). Heroin is man-
ufactured from opium produced by the opium poppy. Having
Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (G. Farrell).
consolidated their rise to power in the mid-1990s, and in
the face of international pressure plus diplomacy from the
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the
Taliban regime enforced an existing ban on opium poppy
growing from July 2000 onwards. The ban was enforced
by three principal techniques: the threat of punishment, the
close local monitoring and eradication of continued poppy
farming, plus the public punishment of transgressors. Local
inter-agency groups were made accountable for the poppy
cultivation of local farmers, giving them a clear incentive to
implement the enforcement effort. The result was a 99% re-
duction in the land area under opium poppy cultivation in
Taliban-controlled areas. Comparison to illicit poppy culti-
vation in multiple comparison groups, combined with qual-
itative evidence and an assessment of the active preventive
ingredients, indicate that the reduction is attributable to the
enforcement effort. Four comparison areas are used in this
0955-3959/$ – see front matter © 2004 Published by Elsevier B.V.
82 G. Farrell, J. Thorne / International Journal of Drug Policy 16 (2005) 81–91
study: non-Taliban areas within Afghanistan; countries adja-
cent to Afghanistan, the non-adjacent illicit poppy cultivat-
ing country of Myanmar (Burma), and the rest of the world.
A slight displacement effect produced an increase in opium
poppy cultivation in areas of Afghanistan outside Taliban
control, but this had little overall impact. There was no iden-
tifiable change in poppy cultivation in neighbouring coun-
tries. Myanmar, Laos and the rest of the world did not ex-
hibit any changes that would suggest the reduction in poppy
cultivation in Afghanistan can be attributed to events out-
side Afghanistan such as a change in the global opium or
heroin market. The result of the Taliban law enforcement ac-
tion was a net 65% reduction global potential opium/heroin
production from the 2001 harvest. Hence, this is arguably the
most effective drug control enforcement action of modern
The findings of this evaluation should not be interpreted
as supporting the politics or activities of the Taliban regime.
The authors are strongly opposed to what was the Taliban
regime,andtoall forms of autocratic,totalitarianand/or theo-
cratic regimes. Likewise, although the Taliban activities are
referred to herein as enforcement, this does not condone the
actions nor imply that such activities can or should be under-
taken elsewhere in the name of ‘law enforcement’. Rather,
this study is presented in the spirit that it is an important case
study to document, and that if there are any lessons to be
learned then it behoves us to seek them out. Our intention
is that, at worst, the result is closer examination of a unique
event of significance to law enforcement, crime science and
international drug policy.
Four brief technical clarifications will assist the reading of
what follows. First, the opium poppy, papaver somniferum,
is often referred to as poppy herein, for brevity. Second, al-
and opium production in this study to distinguish them from
the legal production of opiates for medicine, the term is also
usually dropped for brevity. Third, the organization that was
known as the United Nations International Drug Control Pro-
herein is now part of the United Nations Office on Drugs and
Crime (UNODC). For consistency and ease of reading, the
acronym UNODC refers to both in this text, except where
reference is made to UNDCP publications. Fourth, although
the enforcement of the ban began at the end of the year 2000
as described below, the bulk of its occurrence and impact
was in 2001, and so for simplicity it is usually referred to in
relation to 2001.
The following section gives an overview of the history of
the opium poppy in Afghanistan and the rise of the Taliban
regime.It is followedby a description of events leading upto,
and constituting the implementation of, the enforcement of
the ban on poppy cultivation in 2001. The key active ingredi-
entsofthe ban are identified.Thequantitativeimpactanalysis
facilitates the exclusion of alternative possible causes of the
and conclusions.
Opium in Afghanistan
The UNODC traces opium poppy cultivation in
Afghanistan to the 18th century. Specific details appear to
be scarce until increased documentation occurred with the
emergence of the international drug control system in the
early 20th century. In 1924, Afghanistan reported low levels
of opium poppy cultivation to the League of Nations and cul-
tivation grew steadily until it was banned in 1945 (UNODC,
2003a, 2003b, p. 88).
In 1972, the International Narcotics Control Board,
citing suspicious illicit production increases throughout
Afghanistan, identified the country as the most “immedi-
ate challenge” to the control of illicit opium and trafficking
(UNODC, 2003a, 2003b, p. 88). At that time the main global
sources of illicit opium were Turkey, Pakistan and Iran. For
the remainder of the 1970s the three countries enforced bans
on opium production, leaving a vacuum in the markets for
southwest Asian illicit opium and heroin.
In 1979, the Soviet invasion decimated Afghanistan’s le-
gitimate agricultural network. Many Afghan farmers turned
to subsistence farming of the opium poppy, a transformation
assisted by the vacuum in the southwest Asian opium mar-
ket. This tendency was promoted by the fact that profits from
opium poppy farming were used by Afghani guerrillas to buy
weapons to resist the Soviet forces (UNODC, 2003a, 2003b,
p. 88).
The Soviet occupation lasted a decade until 1989, dur-
ing which time Afghanistan opium production increased an
average of 15% annually (UNODC, 2003a, 2003b, p. 89).
With the Soviet exodus, the absence of substantial govern-
ment in Afghanistan provided even greater opportunity for
opium poppy cultivation, which continued to increase. By
1994 when the first comprehensive United Nations survey
of opium poppy in Afghanistan was conducted, 71,500ha
of Afghanistan was under opium poppy cultivation. By this
time, Afghanistan was established as the world’s major
source of illicit opium, accounting for an estimated 60%
of potential global illicit production (UNODCCP, 2001,p.
60). MacDonald and Mansfield (2001) speculated that the
“uniqueness” of Afghanistan would lessen the possibility of
enforcement tactics having any substantial effects upon illicit
By 2000, Afghanistan was estimated to produce 70% of
the world’s potential illicit opium. Due to the greater av-
erage yield per hectare of the Afghan poppy however, it
only accounted for 37% of the global total area estimated
to be under illicit poppy cultivation. Myanmar’s larger area
of poppy cultivation was estimated to produce only a third of
Afghanistan’sopium.Thedistinction between poppy cultiva-
tion and opium production is important because it is the latter
that has the greatest influence upon global opium and heroin
supplies. Afghanistan and Myanmar together accounted for
93% of estimated potential global illicit opium production in
G. Farrell, J. Thorne / International Journal of Drug Policy 16 (2005) 81–91 83
2000, with Laos accounting for 3.6%, Colombia accounting
for almost 2%, and Mexico, Thailand, and Pakistan for less
than1% of production.According to theUN, Afghan farmers
reserved the most fertile soil and the most advanced irriga-
tion techniques for opium poppy (UNODC, 2003a, 2003b,
pp. 28–30). The quality of the estimates of cultivation and
production is reviewed later.
The rise of the Taliban
The 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the subse-
frastructure including the educational system (Rubin, 1999).
As a result, a generation of youths emerged who were taught
exclusively by rural-based madrasas, or Islamic seminar-
ies for the training of clergy, in southern Afghanistan and
Pakistan. Schooling in these madrasas centred around ultra-
conservative Deobandi Islam, mandating fundamental inter-
pretation of the writings of the Koran (Rubin, 1999).
Soviet withdrawal in 1989 left an unstable communist
government that collapsed in 3 years under pressure from
mujahidin guerrillas (Rubin, 2002). However, the mujahidin
proved ineffective in creating a stable government, with var-
ious ‘warlords’ staking claim over different regions. As the
Afghan economy failed to improve, the feudalistic structure
of the country remained both unpopular and unstable. How-
ever, it was several years until the Taliban began to exploit
this political void.
The students displaced from southern Afghanistan by war
and occupation, combined with those of Pakistan, banded to-
gether as Da Afghanistano da Talibano Islami Tahrik or the
Islamic movement of Taliban of Afghanistan. ‘Taliban’ is
derived from the Arabic word talib, which means ‘religious
student’. The group promised peace, an end to the conflict
between the mujahidin groups, and a government based on
the teachings of Islam (Rubin, 1999, 2002). Electing Mul-
lah Muhammad Omar, or Amir-ul-Momineen (meaning “the
supreme leader of the faithful”) as spiritual leader, the Tal-
iban initiated a revolution to “cleanse” Afghanistan (Bearak,
Early documentation of Taliban activity suggested a
“Robin Hood” aura; a group of outlaws assisting helpless
townsfolk fend off oppressive and unjust rulers (Rubin,
2002). Villagers recalled tales of Taliban faithful attacking
warlords to rescue kidnapped teenage girls in place of weak
or fearful families. The Taliban were viewed as local heroes,
assavioursfrom the state ofnature imposed upon villagers by
the nearest warlord. People of southern Afghanistan began to
call on the Taliban for assistance, cementing a trust between
villagers and their powerful new guardians (Rubin, 2002).
Each subsequent victory over the mujahidin swelled Taliban
ranks with fresh followers galvanized by the numerous and
quick victories they had witnessed. New recruits meant a
larger army, and a larger army provided the means for further
In 1994, the Taliban began to solidify the chaotic southern
regions of Afghanistan. Victories came quick, and within 2
years Taliban forces had advanced northward and captured
the capital city of Kabul (Rubin, 2002). In May of 1997,
the Taliban took control of the last major city held by the
mujahidin, and assumed governing control of Afghanistan
(Rubin, 2002). Seeking to consolidate the northern areas of
the country, the Taliban met resistance from Ahmad Shah
Masud, the last mujahidin commander, and his newly formed
Northern Alliance army (Rubin, 2002).
The Northern Alliance held parts of Afghanistan for the
duration of the Taliban regime. By 2001, close to 95% of
Afghanistan was under Taliban rule. A northeastern area, ap-
proximately 5% of the country’s land area, was controlled by
the Northern Alliance, as shown in Fig. 1. Approximately a
further 15% of the country was largely under Taliban con-
trol but with pockets of resistance. This geo-political divide
within the country is important in the evaluation that fol-
lows because Taliban enforcement action to eliminate poppy
cultivation would not be expected to extend to areas of
Afghanistan outside Taliban control.
At the end of 2001, the Taliban regime was deposed by
United States and allied forces in the wake of the bombing
of the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11,
2001. Since then, and at the time of writing in 2003, the
country has been led by Hamid Karzai, a powerful southern
Pashtun. Karzai was endorsed as head of state in June 2002
byaloya jirga, a grand council of warlords and influential
persons in the country, and is seeking to build a broad-based
government. Extensive poppy cultivation quickly resumed in
Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban regime.
Enforcement of the opium poppy ban
The description of events leading up to the enforcement
of the ban, as well as the tactics used, has been constructed
from various sources. This includes correspondence by the
authors with a United Nations official who had close knowl-
edge of negotiations with the Taliban, plus various published
documents relating to Afghanistan and news reports. Many
independent press reports exist relating to that time, and were
frequently based upon first-hand experience and interviews
in Afghanistan. Although perhaps not as privileged to inside
information on the UN diplomatic negotiations, the indepen-
dent news reports give a vital independent angle. They are
arguably less sanitized and more explicit about the nature
of the punishment of farmers who transgressed the poppy
ban. The description of events given below synthesizes these
sources with the aim of presenting a balanced account.
Events leading to enforcement of the ban
A summary timeline of key events preceding the en-
forcement action is given in Table 1. By 1998 the Tal-
iban was increasingly isolated from the international com-
84 G. Farrell, J. Thorne / International Journal of Drug Policy 16 (2005) 81–91
Fig. 1. Taliban and Northern Alliance-controlled areas of Afghanistan in 2001. ( ) Dark shaded area (northeast, approximately 5% of the country) areas
held by Northern Alliance. ( ) Partially shaded areas (approximately 15% of the country) Taliban with pockets held by Northern Alliance. All other area of
Afghanistan controlled by Taliban. Source:
munity for promoting fundamentalist Islamic policies that
were viewed as inhumane. In particular, restrictions upon
the freedom and rights of women received widespread dis-
approval, as did control of most media and restrictions on
many activities accepted as normal in democratic societies.
According to a senior UN official in the country at the
time, the only major international agency that maintained
contact with the Taliban was the United Nations Office on
Drugs and Crime. By this account, UNODC maintained
open communications with the otherwise isolated Taliban
regime through what the official termed “foot-in-the-door”
tactics. By maintaining this communication, the UNODC
aim was to seek to influence Afghan drug policy, a tac-
tic justified by the country’s major role in the global illicit
heroin trade (United Nations official, 2003, personal com-
munication. The anonymity is maintained but was not re-
In March 1999, UNODC convened a meeting in Pakistan
with Taliban officials and Islamabad drug liaison officers.
UNODC officials interpreted the meeting as successful inso-
far as the Taliban appeared to enjoy the positive international
exposure that resulted (UNODC, 2003a, 2003b, p. 92). The
meeting was viewed as establishing a fledgling trust between
UNODCand the Taliban high command which UNODC offi-
cialshoped would facilitatetheir influence uponAfghan drug
control policy.
Table 1
Timeline of events leading to Afghan poppy ban
Date(s) Event(s)
1998–1999 UNODC “foot-in-the-door” policy maintains only link with major international agency for a politically
isolated Taliban.
March 1999 Islamabad meeting between UNODC, Taliban, Pakistan law enforcement. Subsequent drug control meetings
follow in which UNODC pledged aid to locate largest poppy fields.
September 1999 Mullah Omar orders one-third reduction in opium poppy cultivation.
Early 2000 Forced eradication campaign begins.
July 2000 Mullah Omar issues fatwa against poppy cultivation and opium production.
September–October 2000 Locally formed Shuras disseminate information to local farmers.
October 2000 to end of Taliban regime Shuras enforce poppy ban.
G. Farrell, J. Thorne / International Journal of Drug Policy 16 (2005) 81–91 85
At subsequent meetings addressing drug control, UN-
ODC pledged aid in locating the largest poppy fields and, in
September 1999, Taliban leader Mullah Omar ordered a one-
thirdreduction in poppy cultivation.Thiswasfollowed,at the
behestofUNODC officials,by a forced eradication campaign
beginning in early 2000 (The Economist, 2001;UNODC,
2003a, 2003b, p. 92; United Nations official, 2003, personal
communication. The anonymity is maintained but was not
The description of events given to the authors by a UN
official suggests that UNODC diplomats were able to exploit
three key levers to encourage the Taliban to seek to reduce
poppy cultivation. First, the Taliban were facing increasing
internationalpolitical pressure and United Nations sanctions.
In this context, UNODC established initial trust and influ-
ence with the Taliban who gained some positive recognition
in return. This “foot-in-the-door” tactic included the offer
of some UNODC financial resources. Second, it is possible
that UNODC officials were able to play upon the hard-line
anti-drugs position inherent to the fundamentalist teachings
of the Taliban. The religious doctrine provided justification
for enforcement which might otherwise have proven unpop-
ular among subsistence farmers, traders and other beneficia-
ries. Third, after the initial progress had been made, UN-
ODC officials were subsequently able to play upon Taliban
pride which was wounded when the one-third reduction in
poppy target announced by Mullah Omar in 1999 was not
achieved. If this diplomatic combination of carrots and sticks
was responsible for inducing the forced eradication and to-
tal elimination of poppy that followed, then UNODC could
arguably claim it as one of the most significant negotiated
drug control efforts to date. During mid-2000, the Taliban
informed UNODC officials that they would take “signifi-
cant” steps towards the total elimination of opium poppy in
Other factors were at work during this period. In 1997
the then head of UNDCP, Pino Arlacchi, brokered a
deal with the Taliban. In return for the elimination of
opium poppy, the UN would provide $25 million per
year for 10 years in development assistance to Taliban
areas. Arlacchi’s pronouncements were controversial be-
cause many countries either did not formally recognise
the Taliban government and/or opposed working with the
Taliban due to their poor human right’s record, though
the US government backed the deal soon after its an-
nouncement (Fish, 1998; Smith, 1997). Although some
development projects were begun in Afghanistan, they
were terminated in 2000 due to lack of financing from
the UN as well as continuing extensive poppy cultiva-
tion (Schulenberg, 2000,p.15;Wrep, 2000). The im-
pact upon subsequent Taliban decisions is unclear. In
the face of a reneged ‘deal’ it might have been antici-
pated that the Taliban had little incentive to reduce opium
poppy cultivation, but the evidence from the subsequent
anti-poppy effort suggests that other factors were more
Implementation and enforcement tactics
In July 2000, Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar an-
nounced a fatwa or religious decree stating that poppy cul-
tivation and opium production violated fundamental Islamic
tradition. Any lack of respect for such a decree would re-
flect upon the religious leadership of Mullah Omar and the
tional political favour at stake, there was a sharp incentive for
implementation throughout the Taliban chain of command.
District administrators created monitoring group shuras in
their territories. Shuras consisted of the chief of police, the
chief of the Vice and Virtue Department, spiritual leader ule-
mas from local mosques, and tribal elders.
From September to October 2000, shuras disseminated
information about the fatwa and its enforcement to local
farmers, urging them not to cultivate poppy in the upcom-
ing season. After October, shuras were the primary enforcers
of the ban, for which they were well placed because they had
local knowledge of poppy farming, farmers and families. If
enforcement slackened and was subsequently discovered by
Taliban officials, shuras endured identical punishment as vi-
olators. Motivated by this threat, shuras complied with their
mandate with swift, and often brutal, efficiency. The good
local knowledge and community contacts of the members of
the shuras plus their accountability are the active ingredients
that ensured widespread and pro-active implementation of
the enforcement action.
The proactive enforcement combined prevention and pun-
ishment to trigger specific and general deterrence and inca-
pacitation effects. Many farmers in violation of the prohibi-
tionwere forced to destroy theirowncropsbefore completing
of corporal punishment including whipping and public beat-
ings (Komarow, 2001). An August 10, 2000 edition of The
Economist states that the Taliban was also known to possess
a “fondness of public executions and dismemberment”. Oth-
ers had their faces blackened and were immediately taken
to jail, remaining until destruction of their poppy harvest
was defrayed (Bearak, 2001; Gannon, 2000). Some viola-
tors were paraded through the streets with blackened faces
carrying several heavy sacks of heroin or wearing poppies
while a “town crier” informed the village (via megaphone) of
the fatwa violation. If a poppy farmer was caught by higher
ranking Taliban, village elders had their heads shaved and
shared the violator’s “walk of shame” through the streets and
bazaars, giving local communities an incentive to ensure that
the whole population complied. While an explicit record of
specific acts of punishments being utilized on ban violators
remained elusive, it is wholly within the realm of possibility
that their use, or threat of use, would have been a powerful
motivator to comply. The elimination of poppy cultivation
that resulted is quantified and assessed in relation to compar-
ison groups in the following section.
One potentially competing explanation of extensive re-
ductions in poppy deserves brief mention. In October 2000,
86 G. Farrell, J. Thorne / International Journal of Drug Policy 16 (2005) 81–91
the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported in
the television programme Panorama and elsewhere that the
Pleospora fungus had been developed which would be an
effective killer of the opium poppy (BBC, 2000b). The
Pleospora fungus was developed in Uzbekistan under the
auspices of the UN with funding from the UK. However,
at that time there was uncertainty about the legality and pos-
sible environmental impact of such biological warfare. If the
herbicide had somehow been secretly and extensively used in
known.Itspresence would havebeenrevealedeither by those
who introduced it, by the Taliban, by poppy farmers or others
present in the area. Such widespread and controversial activ-
ity would not go unnoticed and there is, to our knowledge, no
evidence that the fungus was introduced. There is, however,
some possibility that the threat of the use of such herbicides
could have further encouraged the Taliban to implement their
crackdown upon poppy cultivation.
Impact analysis
Prior to the analysis, a brief description is given of the
methodology of the poppy surveys that produce the cultiva-
tion and production estimates. The impact analysis is fol-
lowed, in Section “Discussion”, by a review of the strength
of the evaluation design.
Methodology of the opium poppy cultivation estimates
United Nations estimates of Afghan opium cultivation are
generally held to be the most accurate available. The sur-
veys, conducted annually since 1994, rely primarily upon
on-the-ground field surveys. The measurement techniques
are similar to those used to estimate licit agricultural crops
in the western world. The estimates are checked and ver-
ified by comparison to satellite images. Further details on
the specifics of method are available in the primary sources
(UNDCP surveys each year since 1994). Similar surveys are
now conducted by UNODC for all the major opium poppy
(and coca leaf) growing areas of the world (see the illicit crop
monitoring section at
It is an open secret, as any cross-check of the data
will confirm, that, if necessary, the UNODC supplements
its surveys and field office estimates with those from the
International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) of
the United States Department of State. Though some INCSR
estimates have been questioned in the past due to inconsis-
tencies(Reuter,1996), with the implication that the estimates
are influenced by politics, they are widely used in reputable
academic research (see e.g. Stares, 1996; Tullis, 1995). For
present purposes, INCSR data (United States Government,
Department of State, 2003) was added to the UN data in
relation to 2002 poppy cultivation in Pakistan, Thailand,
Vietnam, Colombia and Mexico, which were not presented
separately in UNODC reports to the 2003 Commission on
Table 2
Poppy cultivation in Taliban-controlled and Northern Alliance-controlled
areas of Afghanistan
Year Taliban-controlled
areas (before end
of 2001)
areas (before end of
2000 77271 4901 82172
2001 874 6732 7606
2002a62727 11319 74046
Source: Derived from UNODC (2003).
aFor presentational purposes, the same geo-political boundaries are pre-
sented for 2002 even though the Taliban government fell at the end of 2001.
Narcotic Drugs (ECOSOC, 2003). However, the contribution
of these countries to the global poppy cultivation total is
around 5% combined. Hence, any influence upon this study
due to variability in the estimates for these countries would
be trivial.
In short, the cultivation estimates used for this study are
the best available and all available indicators suggest they
are representative of reality. Moreover, since the magnitude
of change in the 2001 Afghan poppy crop is so large rela-
tive to other years, even the application of wide confidence
intervals to the data would not shake the main analysis or its
interpretation. The bulk of the analysis below is discussed
as percentage changes. The interested reader can easily de-
rive the percentages from the cultivation and production data
presented in Tables 2–4.
Impact and displacement in Afghanistan
The 2001 efforts by the Taliban shuras would not be ex-
pected to have an impact upon the whole of Afghanistan.
Although the Taliban controlled approximately 95% of the
country, the Northern Alliance controlled around 5% in the
northeast, and 15% remained largely under Taliban control
but disputed in some areas, as illustrated in Fig. 1. The tactics
would not be expected to have an impact in the northeast-
ern area controlled by the Northern Alliance. However, the
northern area that was not under Taliban rule makes a com-
parison area which, aside from its smaller geographical size
(analogous to a smaller sample size in traditional experimen-
tal research), effectively controls for all variables except the
Afghanistan in 2001 consisted of 26 provinces. How-
ever, like most social phenomena and illicit activities,
poppy cultivation was concentrated. The main poppy cul-
tivating provinces under Taliban control were Helmand
(52.2% of total poppy cultivation in Afghanistan), Nan-
(3.2%) (UNODC, 2003a, 2003b, pp. 213–215). Approxi-
mately 94% of Afghan poppy cultivation was within areas
under the control of the Taliban. The remaining 6% of culti-
vation occurred in areas controlled by the Northern Alliance,
primarily in Badakhshan (3.0% of Afghan total cultivation).
G. Farrell, J. Thorne / International Journal of Drug Policy 16 (2005) 81–91 87
Table 3
Opium poppy cultivation estimates 1993–2000 (hectares)
Afghanistan Myanmar Lao PDR Rest of world Global total Afghanistan as
percent of global total
1993 58300 165800 26040 27267 277407 21.0
1994 71470 146600 18520 35889 272479 26.2
1995 53759 154070 19650 22440 249919 21.5
1996 56824 163000 21601 16190 257615 22.1
1997 58416 155150 24082 14200 251848 23.2
1998 63674 130300 26837 17008 237819 26.8
1999 90583 89500 22543 13578 216204 41.9
2000 82171 108700 19052 12029 221952 37.0
2001 7606 105000 17255 14433 144294 5.3
2002 74046 81400 14052 11572 181070 40.9
Source: UNODC (2003a, 2003b, p. 16).
These had consistently been the main poppy cultivating areas
for the bulk of the previous decade.
Preliminary UNODC surveys in February 2001 indicated
a massive reduction in poppy cultivation across Afghanistan.
Thecomplete poppy survey that followed confirmed thesees-
plummeted by 91% from 2000 to 2001 (UNODC, 2001).
Thetwo historically largest poppy cultivatingprovinces,Hel-
mand and Nangarhar, both yielded nearly 100% reductions
from their respective 2000 totals of 42,853 and 19,747ha
(UNODC, 2003a, 2003b, pp. 213–215). The vast majority
of illicit cultivation in Afghanistan in 2001, after the ban,
emanated from the non-Taliban province of Badakhshan, re-
sponsiblefor6342 ha of poppy field (UNODC, 2003a,2003b,
pp. 213–215). Since Badakhshan was under the control of
the Northern Alliance rather than the Taliban, and would not
experience the crackdown, the national-level impact needs
to be disaggregated. The extent of poppy growing in Tal-
iban and non-Taliban-controlled areas is shown in Table 2.In
Taliban-controlled areas, the enforcement action produced a
99% reduction in opium poppy cultivation.
The large percentage increase in poppy cultivation in the
Badakhshanarea controlled bythe Northern Alliancein 2001
was small in absolute terms when compared to the reductions
in the country as a whole. The increase may have been due
to one or more displacement effects. Spatial displacement
may have occurred if some farmers moved from Taliban-
controlled areas to avoid the enforcement crackdown. Of-
fender displacement may have occurred if other farmers in
Badakhshan tried to take up some of the slack by plant-
ing increased hectarage of poppy. Although poppy cultiva-
tion more than doubled in Badakhshan in 2001 from 2347
to 6342ha, the impact upon the overall Afghan poppy cul-
tivation was minor. This localized increase was equivalent
to only 2.4% of the overall national reduction. Hence, al-
though there was some discernible displacement of poppy
cultivation to non-Taliban-controlled areas, its overall effect
was largely negligible. In fact, from an evaluation perspec-
tive, the distinct pattern of poppy growing in Northern Al-
liance areas lends credence to the notion that reductions else-
where were achieved via the Taliban’s enforcement of the
The dramatic decline in poppy in Afghanistan produced a
congruent reduction in opium production. In 2001, the whole
of Afghanistan produced an estimated 185 tons of opium in
2001, a reduction of 94% from the 2000 yield of 3276 tons
(UNODC, 2001). A market subject to a sharp drop in sup-
ply will produce a price increase. The available price data
for Nangarhar and Helmand, the two key markets in Taliban-
controlled Afghanistan, suggest that the price of opium rose
Table 4
Potential opium production estimates 1993-2000 (metric tons)
Year Afghanistan Myanmar Lao PDR Rest of world Global total Afghanistan as
percent of global total
1993 2330 1791 169 320 4610 50.5
1994 3416 1583 120 501 5620 60.8
1995 2335 1664 128 325 4452 52.4
1996 2248 1760 140 207 4355 51.6
1997 2804 1676 147 196 4823 58.1
1998 2693 1303 124 226 4346 62.0
1999 4565 895 124 180 5764 79.2
2000 3276 1087 167 161 4691 69.8
2001 185 1097 134 210 1626 11.4
2002 3400 828 112 159 4499 75.6
Source: UNODC (2003a, 2003b, p. 16).
88 G. Farrell, J. Thorne / International Journal of Drug Policy 16 (2005) 81–91
Fig. 2. Average dry opium farmgate price in Afghanistan (January 1997 to February 2003). Source: UNODC (2003a, 2003b).
dramatically during 2001, as shown in Fig. 2. The price rise
occurredafter the decrease in cultivation, perhaps reflectinga
lag due to the gradual depletion of opium stocks. Such stocks
would, in theory, be used to buffer against short-term opium
shortagesdue to bad weather or other causesof poor harvests.
However, the extent and role of opium stocks is uncertain be-
cause if there were major stockpiles to maintain supply over
longperiods, then the significantopium price increasesmight
nothaveoccurred. The price data is collected separately from
the opium survey data and presents an independent verifica-
tion of occurrences in the Afghan opium market. The price
of raw opium rose rapidly across 2001 as the cultivation ban
gradually began to bite in the opium marketplace (Fig. 2).
Impact upon neighbouring countries
It might be hypothesized that a reduction in poppy culti-
vation in Afghanistan would produce an increase in nearby
countries if they were conducive to poppy cultivation. Pak-
istan and Iran border upon Afghanistan and have histories of
illicit poppy cultivation, opium production and trafficking.
It is therefore reasonable to identify them as possible dis-
placement or catchment zones. However, in 2001 and 2002,
therewere no reported signs ofpoppy cultivation in these two
countries, and it is likely that any major new planting would
have been identified. However, upon further consideration,
perhaps it is more likely that any highly motivated Afghan
farmers would have relocated to northeastern Afghanistan
while local farmers remained subject to local bans. Such an
explanation would fit with the empirical findings.
No increases in poppy cultivation were identified in the
central Asian states of Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbek-
istan that border Afghanistan to the north. This also fits with
areas of Afghanistan. It is therefore concluded that displace-
ment across Afghanistan’s borders, either in the form of dis-
placed migrating Afghan farmers or as the result of a market
effect (farmers in neighbouring countries tempted by higher
opium prices) did not occur in either 2001 or 2002.
Comparison to Myanmar
Myanmar is included here as a comparison area because,
alongwith the ‘rest of the world’ group,it effectivelycontrols
for variables outside of Afghanistan. Such variable include
the global opium or heroin markets which could have influ-
enced poppy cultivation within Afghanistan. In 2000, Myan-
mar ranked first in global poppy cultivation with Afghanistan
second. Due to differences in yield, Myanmar ranked second
in potential opium production and Afghanistan first. There
are also several other key parallels between Afghanistan and
Myanmar—they have similar land surface areas (though the
populationofMyanmar is larger), as wellas,generally speak-
ing, comparable political and socio-economic climates. Each
had poorly developed economies and overall low human de-
velopment rankings (INCSR, 2003; UNDCP, 2002). Both
countrieswere ruled by harsh totalitariangovernmentswhich
faced armed military opposition who controlled non-trivial
areas of the country. Afghanistan is in southwest Asia and
Myanmar in southeast Asia. Unlike the comparison areas
considered above, Myanmar is not geographically close to
Myanmar and would not be a potential catchment area for
displaced Afghan poppy farmers.
In 2000, Myanmar contained an estimated 108,700ha of
poppy or 49% of the global total. In 2001, it experienced the
relatively minor change of a decline of 2200ha of poppy cul-
tivation. This was well within normal parameters for annual
variation in Myanmar’s poppy cultivation. While the country
had been experiencing a gradual decline in cultivation since
the mid-1990s, the 2000 total had been an increase upon the
G. Farrell, J. Thorne / International Journal of Drug Policy 16 (2005) 81–91 89
1999 total. There is no reason to conclude that Myanmar ex-
periencedany unusual change inits area ofpoppy cultivation.
Thereiscertainlynochange in cultivationthatcouldremotely
be interpreted as of similar magnitude to that occurring in
Afghanistan. The comparison with Myanmar eliminates the
possibility that the change in cultivation in Afghanistan is
attributable to a cause relating to the global opium market. A
globalcause such as, say,aglobalblight that destroyed poppy
crops, or a collapse of the global illicit heroin market, cannot
be the cause of the decline in Afghan poppy cultivation.
Fourth comparison area: the rest of the world
In 2000, Laos ranked third in global illicit opium poppy
cultivation but accounted for only an estimated 19,052ha or
8.6% of the world total. Poppy cultivation in Laos had been
declining from a peak of nearly 27,000ha in 1998. In 2001
and 2002, Laos continued the trend of an annual decline of
between 2 and 4000ha. There is no evidence of any unusual
change in Laotian poppy cultivation, and no change similar
to that in Afghanistan.
Illicit opium poppy cultivation in all other countries aside
from Afghanistan, Myanmar and Laos accounted for only
5.4%of the estimated global total in 2000.The levelof opium
poppy cultivation in other countries of the world combined
had varied between 12 and 17,000 ha since 1996. In 2001, the
rest of the world experienced an estimated 14,433ha of cul-
tivation, which, while a 2204 increase on the previous year,
was not a particularly unusual change in absolute amounts.
In fact the increase was wholly attributable to an increase
in cultivation in Mexico. It seems unlikely that this change
was induced by a global market effect in response to reduced
supply in Afghanistan because Mexico supplies, for the most
part, a different market. Even if the increase was in response
to change in Afghanistan, its overall effect is negligible in
comparison. Hence, there is no evidence in the rest of the
world of any change in poppy cultivation similar or compa-
rable to that in Afghanistan in 2001.
The evaluation design
The bespoke nature of this evaluation means that it is not
a wholly traditional quasi-experimental design. However, it
eliminates plausible alternative hypotheses regarding change
in the dependent variable (area of poppy cultivation), and
combines this with an understanding of the mechanism of
change. The following paragraphs in this section discuss
these issues further.
Couldthe drop in poppy cultivation have been dueto other
change in Afghanistan such as severe weather, crop blight,
other agronomy-related changes, or other local change? Se-
vere weather can sometimes cause radical fluctuations in the
extent of poppy cultivation, as that experienced in Laos in
the early 1990s (see Farrell, 1998, pp. 418–419; National
Narcotics Intelligence Consumers Committee, 1995, p. 39).
It was also the case that a drought in Afghanistan in 2000
may have accounted for the drop in poppy cultivation in
that year relative to 1999 (BBC, 2000a) although there is
no suggestion that the drought accounted for the far more
significant drop in poppy cultivation experienced in 2001,
particularly since the reductions did not occur in non-Taliban
areas. In the present evaluation, any such local change due
to drought or other causes would be equally experienced in
non-Taliban areas of Afghanistan. The non-Taliban area of
Afghanistan is a smaller geographical area but is otherwise
matched for variables other than the presence of the Tal-
iban. Further, it is clear that the sheer magnitude of change
in poppy cultivation in 2000 was such that any alternative
explanations of change would almost certainly have been
proffered by an attentive media, local UN drug control of-
ficials or others working in the region. Severe weather and
crop blight are easily recognized and would be well docu-
mented. Extensive migration of poppy farmers to areas out-
side control of the Taliban would have produced a gradual
rather than a sudden decline in cultivation, reflecting a grad-
ual migration process. There was undoubtedly some migra-
tion during the Taliban regime. However, if migration was
sufficiently dramatic during the poppy ban enforcement then
this is an explanation compatible with enforcement as the
cause of the poppy reduction. Migration would also have
resulted in more extensive increases in displaced poppy cul-
tivation elsewhere in Afghanistan and in neighbouring coun-
tries. Another possible explanation was if herbicides had
been used to eliminate the crops but this possibility was dis-
cussed and eliminated earlier. In short, this aspect of the re-
search design serves to eliminate plausible alternative local
Alternative causes of the drop in poppy cultivation could
lieoutsideAfghanistan. A major dropin demand in the global
opium and heroin markets could, in theory, produce a fall in
prices that made it unprofitable to cultivate opium poppy.
Such a hypothetical drop in demand could be caused by an
equally preferable and cheaper or more easily available alter-
native to opium and heroin, or by a hitherto unknown cause.
However, anysuch change inconsumption would necessarily
be sufficiently major, widespread and rapid as to be well doc-
umented in many Western and other countries. Aside from
this qualitative explanation, the research design accounts for
exogenouschange.Myanmar and the ‘restof the world’serve
as independent comparison groups that are susceptible to
change in the global markets. As they did not experience any
change comparable to that in Afghanistan, exogenous global
causes can be eliminated as explanations of the change in
Afghanistan. When the quantitative control is combined with
the qualitative assessment, it is clear that any exogenous vari-
able of sufficient import to induce the change in Afghanistan
wouldhavebeen detected. Inshort, this aspectof the research
design serves to eliminate plausible alternative global or ex-
ogenous causes.
90 G. Farrell, J. Thorne / International Journal of Drug Policy 16 (2005) 81–91
The strength of the present evaluation design is that is has
been tailored to be appropriate to the requirements and con-
text of the study. It triangulates qualitative and quantitative
sources and an understanding of the mechanism of change.
Theapproachallowsconclusionstobedrawnwitha degree of
confidence in their validity that is arguably unusual in social
science research.
Would the evaluation design capture displacement ef-
fects? When undertaking this analysis, we had anticipated
finding some increase in poppy cultivation in countries out-
side Afghanistan. It was expected that market forces react-
ing to an increased opium price would induce rapid plant-
ing of poppy elsewhere in southwest Asia, southeast Asia
or elsewhere. Such a ‘market effect’ would be similar to,
but distinct from the various forms of displacement. At least
one reputable news source reported frantic poppy plant-
ing in southwest Asia in anticipation of the Afghan opium
drought (The Economist, August 10, 2000). That no such
increases were identifiable in either the 2001 or 2002 cul-
tivation data could suggest such reports were unrepresenta-
tive. This does not preclude the possibility of displacement
in the medium term although cultivation data for 2003 were
not available at the time of writing and would be influenced
by the subsequent resumption of cultivation in Afghanistan.
Even if complete market-effect displacement had occurred
by 2003 then there would still have been a short-run reduc-
tion in opium supply. In short, the evaluation design cap-
tures displacement effects for the duration of the interven-
upon heroin consumption are discussed briefly in the next
Broader implications of the study
It is tempting, though probably of little value, to speculate
along ‘What if?’ lines. What if the Taliban had remained in
power in Afghanistan after 2001? Would a prolonged 65%
reduction in the world’s potential illicit heroin supply have
resulted? If so, what would have been the impact upon de-
mand for heroin, particularly in western industrial democra-
cies which are the destination for a significant portion of the
trade?Perhapsmarketforces, namely the increased price paid
for raw opium, would have driven increases in poppy culti-
vation elsewhere in the middle to long term, or perhaps the
Taliban enforcement effortwouldhaveprovedunsustainable,
no significant immediate market-driven increases were iden-
tified in the various poppy-cultivating areas examined in this
More important than speculation are lessons learned and
broader questions that arise. The evaluation raises issues rel-
evant to evaluation, policing, crime theory, and drug policy
that may go beyond the scope of this study. The events de-
scribe herein are a case study in which the offenders – albeit
impoverished farmers – rapidly quit their offending (poppy
cultivation had long been illegal) in the face of a credible
threat and enforcement action. There may be implications for
criminological theory and crime prevention theories that ex-
amine deterrence. Even though the inhumane and draconian
policies of the Taliban are clearly not something that should
be replicated in free democratic society, the case study may
offer a theoretical limiting case that is otherwise informative.
The events in Afghanistan are a unique case study of drug
control policy. What was the impact upon opium and heroin
consumption? A forthcoming study by Peter Reuter is likely
to suggest that the impact on heroin consumption, if any, is
minimal in the major consumer markets (Reuter, 2003, per-
sonal communication to author in Denver, CO). What are
the lessons for drug law enforcement? Previous national-
level enforcement actions against poppy have occurred in
India, Iran, Pakistan, Thailand and Turkey. The specifics of
the enforcement activities differ from those described here
and there is little by means of proper evaluation of their ef-
fectiveness, perhaps because they occurred at a time when
formal evaluation of such policies was rarely considered.
What the present case study makes clear is that poppy culti-
vation, even when widespread and seemingly entrenched as
in Afghanistan, can be reduced. However, the implications
for national and international drug policies are somewhat
opaque. Chief among the unresolved issues is displacement.
In previous instances of national-level reductions in poppy,
cultivation appeared to spring up elsewhere in the years that
followed: Afghanistan more than taking up the market slack
from India, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan, and Myanmar more
than taking up the slack from Thailand. It has, however, been
suggested that even a short-term reduction in opium supply
can produce temporary declines in heroin consumption and,
Moore’s, 1990, pp. 136–137, enlightening discussion of the
breakingofthe French Connection trafficking routes via Mar-
seilles). If opium stocks absorbed the immediate reduction in
supply from Afghanistan (perhaps if traffickers anticipated
the Taliban enforcement action), much of the resulting price
increase may have been absorbed by the time the product
reached the streets in western countries. If so, then without
any sustained reduction in supply, the 1-year reduction may
have gone largely unnoticed in consumer markets. These are
empirical questions that remain to be addressed. There may
also be some gain from comparing the present study to the
apparently successful poppy reduction efforts in Iran, India,
Pakistan, Thailand and Turkey.
With the ousting of the Taliban government at the end
of 2001, the possible medium and long-term displacement
effects on poppy cultivation will never be known. While
there was no immediate displacement, it is uncertain where
medium-term displacement would have occurred. The most
likely candidates were neighbouring Southwest Asian coun-
tries, poppy cultivating area in Southeast Asia (Myanmar,
Laos, Vietnam) and the Andean region (Colombia). How-
ever, significantly increased opium production in either re-
gion would require new or expanded heroin trafficking to
serve the European market. Heroin trafficking from Colom-
G. Farrell, J. Thorne / International Journal of Drug Policy 16 (2005) 81–91 91
bia could have expanded on existing routes and perhaps
on routes established for cocaine trafficking, but perhaps
even this would have caused a shortage and street price
increase in European markets. Such predictions are, how-
ever, precarious at best because market forces can easily pro-
duce unanticipated consequences in the medium and long
The main conclusion of the evaluation is clear: all avail-
ableevidence suggests thatthe 99% reduction in illicit opium
poppy cultivation in Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan
in 2001 is attributable to the enforcement activity. This pro-
duced a 65% reduction in the potential global illicit heroin
supply from the 2001 harvest.
This paper was presented to the annual meeting of the
American Society of Criminology 2003 in Denver, CO,
November 18–23, 2003. For correspondence on the subject
of this study we owe particular thanks to one United Nations
official who is anonymous for present purposes but who was
present in the region during much of what is discussed relat-
for forwarding relevant materials and documents, Professor
John Eck for a discussion on market effects and the link to
displacement, and Professor Peter Reuter for comments on
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... This heroin then enters Turkey where the Balkan route splits into three branches: the Northern, the Western, and the Southern (Brookman et al., 2010;Ekici, 2014 Like cocaine, the heroin trade has fluctuating routes. It has been affected notably by geopolitical events, in particular, the Taliban's enforced ban of opium poppy cultivation in parts of Afghanistan that it controlled in the 1990s (Farrell & Thorne, 2005). That ban re sulted in global opium production decreasing significantly in 2001 with poppy harvest yields reducing by over 90%, thus reducing opium production from an estimated 4,700 tons to 1,600 tons (Farrell & Thorne, 2005;Gibson, Degenhardt, Day, & McKetin, 2005;Macdonald, 2005;Paoli et al., 2009). ...
... It has been affected notably by geopolitical events, in particular, the Taliban's enforced ban of opium poppy cultivation in parts of Afghanistan that it controlled in the 1990s (Farrell & Thorne, 2005). That ban re sulted in global opium production decreasing significantly in 2001 with poppy harvest yields reducing by over 90%, thus reducing opium production from an estimated 4,700 tons to 1,600 tons (Farrell & Thorne, 2005;Gibson, Degenhardt, Day, & McKetin, 2005;Macdonald, 2005;Paoli et al., 2009). With the overthrow of the Taliban regime in 2001, opium production resumed and surpassed previous levels (Paoli et al., 2009). ...
Since the early 20th century, the illegal drug trade has received increasing focus through­out the world. However, the use of mind-altering substances predates attempts to prohib­it or regulate them. Early control efforts date back to the teachings of Mohammed in the Koran, though wider-scale control efforts did not occur until the 18th century. Since that time, both the production of mind-altering substances and their regulation or prohibition has been commonplace throughout the world. Several illicit markets exist in response to the ongoing demand. Four notable products are cocaine, heroin, cannabis, and syntheti­cally produced, mind-altering substances that are sold predominantly to users in North America and Europe. The production, transportation, and usage of these substances are all impacted by the histories and geographies of the producer, intermediary, and user countries. Shifts in tol­erance of certain substances; geopolitical events, such as war; international policy and policing initiatives, such as the implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988 and improved means of detecting illicit payloads at international boarders; and changes in demand for specific products have all influenced how trafficking routes and the organizations that participate in the drug trade form and adapt. Regardless of these changes, one constant is that no aspect of the drug trade has ever been dominated by a single, monolithic organization; several illicit enterprises have his­torically come together to form the often supply global chains. In the 2011, the first dark­net market, the Silk Road, emerged as a means by which some buyers and sellers could connect, thus potentially reducing the links of the supply chain. Ongoing changes in technology as well as shifts in the regulatory frameworks on controlled substances will impact illicit substances that are sold and how buyers and sellers interact, and will require inno­vated research strategies to evaluate their evolution.
... A decade later, amidst the upheaval of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the Islamist revolutionary cadres reversed the medical opium policy and reinstated it as rooted in an 'evil ethics' with no medical value ( Jomhuriye Eslami, 1979 ). Ever since, opium, and its transregional economy originating in Afghanistan's poppy fields, has grown relentlessly ( Farrell & Thorne, 2005 ;Goodhand, 2005 ;Mansfield, 2016 ) and opiate (as well as methamphetamines) consumption has increased to new record levels ( Barr & Noroozi, 2013 ;Ghiabi, 2019 ;Moradi et al., 2019 ;Sharifi et al., 2017 ). And, since the 1980s, Iran has seized more opiates than any other country with up to 80% and 30% respectively of all of the world's opium and heroin seizures ( Robins, 2016 ; United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime 2010 ; United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime 2019 ). ...
Full-text available
How can we conceive alternative policy models that embrace the empirical potentialities emerging from the lifeworld of drugs? The article reflects on this question, concluding that to reassess and to reinvent current policies on drugs, we need to think with a political ontology. Incidentally, the article also responds to the critique dismissing ontological inquiries as obstructing – or, at best, not informing – alternative drug policies. In an archaeological approach inspired by the work of Giorgio Agamben, the article unearths the case study of opium maintenance programme in Iran (1969–79), a forgotten policy experiment in an understudied and yet crucial geo-cultural environment for the global study of drugs. Mobilising the conceptual framework of ontological journeys, the article recomposes the lifeworld of opium within the horizons of transformative cultural practices, international borders, policy regimes and public ethics. Here, the materiality of drug consumption under the maintenance policy links with the changes in opium's transnational political economy and with shifting regimes of health and bioethical orthodoxy. Ontological journeys, hence, develop in a fluid space and time, making it possible to illuminate the lifeworld of drugs in places and times hitherto deserted by global policy studies. In building theoretical reflections upon a non-Western case, the article also incites the possibility of theory beyond Eurocentric knowledge and Euromerican cases. In this way, the article's purpose is to analyse the be-coming of opium beyond ‘good’ or ‘evil’, as a ‘medicine’ or a ‘drug’ and its real or perceived classification as ‘licit’ or ‘illicit’ across the Afghan-Iranian border. In conclusion, the article reflects upon the significance of this forgotten policy experiment, understood as an ontological journey, for contemporary drug policy and drug studies, but also for reinventing notions of care, welfare and health.
... Prohibition was re-enacted in 2000 with an opium ban which reduced the national area under cultivation by 91%. Sources have suggested that the intervention was 'inhumane and draconian', with local community leaders ordered to forcefully eradicate crops and punish farmers with public humiliation, imprisonment, flogging, execution (Farrell & Thorne, 2005) and destruction of property. Mansfield (2011), conversely, suggests that there was less violence and much more brokerage and implied coercion in many areas. ...
Full-text available
Although the literature and cultural practices of the South Asian region demonstrate a rich understanding of criminology, this handbook is the first to focus on crime, criminal justice, and victimization in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. South Asia’s rapid growth in population and economy continues to introduce transformations in social behaviors, including those related to criminality and victimization. Readers of this handbook will gain a comprehensive look at criminology, criminal justice, and victimology in the South Asian region, including processes, historical perspectives, politics, policies, and victimization. This collection of chapters penned by scholars from all eight of the South Asian nations, as well as the US, UK, Australia, and Belgium, will advance the study and practice of criminology in the South Asian region and carry implications for other regions. The Routledge Handbook of South Asian Criminology provides a wealth of information on criminological issues and their effect on the countries and governments’ efforts to mitigate them. It is essential reading for students and scholars of South Asian criminology, criminal justice, and politics.
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Afghanistan has been the largest producer of opium for last few years. Afghanistan was in war with Soviet Union for over nine years and with US for over thirteen years. This has significantly affected the economy of the country. Many of the poor Afghan farmers involved in cultivating opium in order to manage their livelihood. However, other parties like different insurgent groups, domestic and international traffickers and drug dealers get the benefit out of it. The gross profit coming from the Afghan opiate industry is huge and significant part of this money goes to the hand of the parties mentioned above. Apart from financial issue, domestic consumption of drugs like raw opium and heroin is on rise which is affecting the local population specially the young generation. Beside serving the local demand, Afghan opium reaches as far as North America, Europe and Oceania through multiple illicit drug trafficking routes. Neighboring countries of Afghanistan are one of the victims of Afghan opiate as Afghan opiate empowers insurgent groups and traffickers in those countries while directly affecting the local population. These pose security threats not only to the Afghanistan but also to the neighboring countries of Afghanistan as well the destination countries of Afghan opiate. This thesis intends to find out how Afghan illegal drug production and illicit trafficking pose non-traditional security threats to both national and international security.
During the past two decades, expanding irrigated land and achieving self-sufficiency in wheat production have been primary focuses of Afghan food security policies. However, the true impacts of these strategies on wheat development are still unknown due to the weak monitoring system. This study was designed to (1) map the spatial dominance of wheat (the main staple crop) and barley (an alternative to wheat) in the Kabul River basin (KRB), (2) examine the exchange of area between the two crops considering the main production constraints of land, water, and labour, and (3) project the likelihood of wheat self-sufficiency in the KRB. For the development of crop dominance maps, the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) signatures were used in this study; for the crop area simulations, the dynamics of land system (DLS) model was coupled with the profit maximization model to develop different likely scenarios. The results indicated that from 2000 to 2010, the wheat area increased by 15% (41,075 ha), while the barley area decreased by 9% (-3525 ha), suggesting that improved water management in the KRB has encouraged wheat farming over barley farming. The projected scenarios (for 2030) also showed that the wheat area is likely to expand under all the scenarios, particularly under the business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, in which an annual increase rate of 1.5% is predicted. The economic development under labour constraints (EDL) and the environmental protection under water constraints (EPW) scenarios, on the other hand, showed the lowest increases. The analysis of the predicted wheat area and production values against population growth indicated the unlikeliness of achieving wheat self-sufficiency in the KRB.
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Under international law, the cultivation of opium poppy, coca bush and cannabis plant is allowed only for limited medical and scientific purposes. All other cultivation of these plants is marked for removal via eradication or other means. Globally, the annual risk of eradication is consistently below 10% for each crop. Evidence regarding socioeconomic development policies is taken from over two decades of United Nations programs in 11 countries. Using any measure of performance, they have had little impact. Even with marginal revisions in their methodology, the likelihood of these policies achieving their aims in the near future seems minimal.
Within a highly volatile socio-economic, political and legal environment, opium poppy has become an integral part of livelihood strategies in many rural communities in Afghanistan. Over the past decade Afghanistan has become the world's leading producer of opium. The easy availability of both opium and heroin, as well as a wide range of pharmaceutical drugs, coupled with an impoverished population traumatized by 20 years of war and conflict, has led to an increase in drug problems both in Afghanistan and refugee communities in neighbouring countries. This overview of the supply of, and demand for, drugs in Afghanistan provides insights into the complexities of drug production and consumption within the broader context of development issues and objectives.
The September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington refocused sustained American attention on Afghanistan for the first time since the Soviet invasion ended. The origin and rise of the Taliban became a subject of great interest. The U.S.-backed mujahidin from the era of the Soviet occupation and the Taliban, a movement developed a decade later, were fierce rivals. As such, the "blowback" argument—that Central Intelligence Agency policies of the 1980s are directly responsible for the rise of the Taliban—is inaccurate. It was Pakistan that backed radical Islamists to protect itself from Afghan nationalist claims on Pakistani territory, which Islamabad feared, might pull apart the country. Indeed, for independent Pakistan's first three decades, nationalist "Pushtunistan" rhetoric from Afghanistan posed a direct threat to Pakistani territorial integrity. As the United States prepared for war against Afghanistan, some academics or journalists argued that Usama bin Ladin's al-Qa'ida group and Afghanistan's Taliban government were really creations of American policy run amok. A pervasive myth exists that the United States was complicit for allegedly training Usama bin Ladin and the Taliban. For example, Jeffrey Sommers, a professor in Georgia, has repeatedly claimed that the Taliban had turned on "their previous benefactor." David Gibbs, a political science professor at the University of Arizona, made similar claims. Robert Fisk, widely-read Middle East correspondent for The Independent, wrote of "CIA camps in which the Americans once trained Mr. bin Ladin's fellow guerrillas."(1) Associated Press writer Mort Rosenblum declared that "Usama bin Ladin…was the type of Soviet-hating freedom fighter that U.S. officials applauded when the world looked a little different."(2) In fact, neither bin Ladin nor Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Umar were direct products of the CIA. The roots of the Afghan civil war and the country's subsequent transformation into a safe-haven for the world's most destructive terror network is a far more complex story, one that begins in the decades prior to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Efforts to control the supply of drugs to illicit markets in the United States through law-enforcement measures must be evaluated from three different perspectives: their efficacy in reducing the availability of drugs in illicit markets; their impact on the wealth and power of ongoing criminal organizations; and their impact on foreign-policy objectives of the U. S. government. Available evidence suggests that supply-reduction efforts have been successful in dealing with heroin and, perhaps, with marijuana, but not yet with cocaine. Government efforts to attack the supply system include an international program to eradicate crops, interdiction of shipments crossing U. S. borders, investigations and prosecutions of high-level drug trafficking networks, and state and local enforcement efforts directed at street-level drug dealing. A portfolio of programs is stronger than any single program alone. The primary thrust of the effort must be to frustrate illicit transactions at every level and to immobilize thos...
Afghanistan's Taliban ban poppy farming. Lexington Area Muslim Network
  • K Gannon
Gannon, K. (2000). Afghanistan's Taliban ban poppy farming. Lexington Area Muslim Network. 16 November 2000. Available: http://www. (accessed c. November 2002).