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US spends $7bn but fails to stop Afghan opium poppy growth
Afghanistan saw record levels of opium poppy growth in 2013, despite US efforts
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* Afghan opium farming 'to spread'
* Afghan opium yield at record level Watch
* Drug cash 'turning Taliban into wealthy criminals'
Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan hit record levels in 2013 despite counter-narcotics efforts by Washington, a US report says.
The special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction said the US had spent $7.6bn ( UKP#4.72bn) over 13 years trying to eradicate the plant.
A number of agencies gave to the funds aimed at supporting narcotics officers and helping farmers change livelihoods.
Despite this, Afghanistan grew 209,000 hectares of the plant in 2013.
A UN body says the value of this crop was nearly $3bn ( UKP#1.86bn), up 50% from 2012.
"With deteriorating security in many parts of rural Afghanistan and low levels of eradication of poppy fields, further increases in cultivation are likely in 2014," said the US inspector general, John Sopko.Deep-well technology
The report also found that areas such as Nangarhar in the east of the country, which was previously declared "poppy-free", are cultivating the plant again.
It is believed that affordable deep-well technology might be responsible for the surge.
Over the past decade, the wells have turned 200,000 hectares of desert into farming land. Much of this is being used to grow opium poppies.
Afghanistan is responsible for producing about 80% of the world's opium.
Profits from the trade help fund corruption within the country, maintain criminal networks and support terrorist groups such as the Taliban.
The report comes as President Ashraf Ghani, appointed at the end of September, tries to usher in a new era for Afghanistan.
More on This Story
Afghan opium farming 'to spread'31 JANUARY 2011, SOUTH ASIA
Afghan opium yield at record level Watch13 NOVEMBER 2013, ASIA
Drug cash 'turning Taliban into wealthy criminals'19 JUNE 2014, ASIA
Afghan opium profits up 133% Watch13 JANUARY 2012, ASIA
Afghanistan country profile24 SEPTEMBER 2014, ASIA
From other news sites
ABC News Afghan Opium Trade Thriving Despite US $7B Effort 5 hrs ago
International Business Times UK Opium Poppy Cultivation Hits All-Time High in Afghanistan 12 hrs ago
Los Angeles Times Fight against Afghanistan's opium trade is failing, U.S. report says 19 hrs ago
Bloomberg Afghan Opium Poppies Thrive Despite $7 Billion From U.S. 19 hrs ago
Mail Online UK Despite costly U.S. effort, Afghan poppy cultivation hits new high 20 hrs ago
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