The ruling Taliban movement in Afghanistan began to send its members to the poppy fields to ensure the destruction of its crops in the first season to implement the decision to ban its cultivation in the country.
The leader of the Taliban, Hebatullah Akhundzada, announced last April that poppy cultivation – from which the opium drug is extracted – was finally banned, after allowing a year as a grace period for farmers to sell last year’s crop.
Although many Afghan farmers in the south of the country depended on poppy cultivation for decades, the Taliban succeeded in banning it completely during its rule of the country between 1996 and 2001 before it was overthrown by the US invasion.
The Taliban movement itself relied on the revenues of poppy cultivation to provide financial support during its fight against the US forces, which in turn allowed its cultivation and imposed taxes on it.
According to the United Nations, 85% of the world’s opium flowed through Afghanistan in 2020, the last year for the Western-backed Afghan government before the Taliban seized power again.
Poppy farmer Ghulam Rasool in a village in Helmand province said the Taliban government must provide farmers with an alternative before implementing the ban. “They haven’t given us any other alternative yet,” he added.
Abdul Haq Akhund, deputy minister for drug control in the Taliban government, said that the movement has managed to destroy thousands of fields since the start of this year’s season.
The United Nations has said that the number of poppy fields in Afghanistan is not less than 230 thousand fields.