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Afghanistan Produced 80% of the World’s Opium in 2022: UN Report

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported that Afghanistan produced the majority of global illicit opium production in 2022, which makes 80%, despite the Taliban’s ban on opium cultivation in April last year.

The report released a day before the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, said that the supply and trafficking of illegal drugs, including cocaine and methamphetamine, have increased dramatically worldwide, including in Afghanistan.

The report said, “The 2023 opium harvest in Afghanistan may see a drastic drop following the Taliban’s ban, as early reports suggest reductions in poppy cultivation. The benefits of a possible significant reduction in illicit opium cultivation in Afghanistan in 2023 would be global. However, it will be at the expense of many farmers in the country who do not have alternative means of income generation.”

According to recent UNODC figures, there will be over 296 million drug users worldwide in 2021, a 23% rise from the previous ten years. Meanwhile, 39.5 million people worldwide have drug use problems, a 45% increase in ten years.

The World Drug Report 2023 also emphasises how social and economic injustices both cause and are caused by drug problems, the destruction that illicit drug economies make to the environment and human rights, and the increasing dominance of synthetic drugs.

“Time is needed to determine whether trends hold and the effect that may have on global heroin markets, especially those sourced by opium from Afghanistan.”

“Afghanistan is also a major producer of methamphetamines in the region, and the drop in opiate cultivation could drive a shift towards synthetic drug manufacture, where different actors will benefit,” The report noted.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime is dubious about “the connections between the illegal manufacture of heroin and methamphetamine in the country and whether the two markets will develop in parallel or whether one will eventually replace the other.”