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Afghanistan at risk of becoming a 'narco-state'

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Afghanistan at risk of becoming a 'narco-state'

Afghanistan at risk of becoming a 'narco-state'

Aghanistan continues to lead global opium production, even with efforts to curb production and trafficking of drugs in the country.

That is because farmers continue to harvest poppies for their use in heroin and opium, to make a living.

One U.S. congressional watchdog says the country is at risk of becoming a 'narco-state' because of it.

Jayson Albano reports.

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Afghanistan at risk of becoming a 'narco-state'

It's a crime - but its a way of life.

Poppy fields like this are found all over Afghanistan.

They harvest this sticky sap for opium and heroin.

And farmer Mohammad Ahmadi says he's not afraid of authorities.

(SOUNDBITE) (Pashto) AFGHAN FARMER, MOHAMMAD AHMADI, SAYING: "Nobody is interested in doing this job.

I wanted to continue my studies but economic issues have forced me to do this business.

Also, the government is not paying attention to us and did not pave the ground for alternate jobs." There are tens of thouands of opium farmers like him.

Afghanistan has led global opium production for years, despite almost 8 billion dollars spent by the U.S. government to stop production and trafficking.

And efforts to develop alternative crops like saffron have been somewhat successful, but that hasn't put a dent in the drug trade.

(SOUNDBITE) (Pashto) AFGHAN FARMER, MOHAMMAD AHMADI; SAYING: "The government has always told us not to cultivate poppies.

But we have no choice and have to do this because there are no alternative farming options for (money)." The country's been busy trying to settle an 18-year war.

And as it struggles with the expanding control of the Taliban, recently efforts to clear opium crops have been hamstrung.

According to a U.S. congressional watchdog, Afghanistan's at risk of becoming a so-called 'narco-state'.

And there is little Afghan officials can do to stop it.

(SOUNDBITE) (Pashto) HEAD OF KANDAHAR COUNTER NARCOTICS DIRECTORATE, GUL MOHAMMAD SHUKRAN, SAYING: The Afghan government doesn't have sufficient budget to help the farmers and provide them with alternative farming.

We don't have the ability to annihilate poppy cultivation in the whole country." Harvest season lasts less than twenty days a year, but it gives Ahmadi a big boost to his income.

Ahmadi sees little choice on farming narcotics.

He's the breadwinner of a family of fourteen.




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