in the News
Monday 19 August 2002 Vocabulary from the news. Listen to and read the report then find
explanations of difficult words below.
Afghanistan's poppy production
Summary: The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says the new Afghan government has largely failed in its efforts to eradicate the opium poppy crop in Afghanistan. This report from Liam McSheffrey.
In recent years, Afghanistan and its production of the opium poppy crop made it the world's biggest producer of the raw material for heroin. Now the United Nations says figures for this year so far put production levels of the opium poppy close to those of the late nineteen-nineties before the former Taleban regime banned poppy cultivation. Then Afghanistan was supplying seventy per cent of the world's opium. It's a quick cash crop for farmers who are often struggling to survive. Now the UN estimates that more than one billion dollars of the crop are now being produced in farms in the country. It was the US-led war that ousted the Taleban last year, that prompted Afghan farmers to plant the opium poppy again over tens of thousands of hectares. The interim government of President Hamid Karzai banned the production in January this year but according to the UN report, by then most of the opium crop had been already planted. Three months later, the interim government decided to get tough, by announcing an eradication programme. Fraud and poor management were to blame for the failure of the program. The government said the farmers would be compensated to the tune of five hundred dollars per hectare for destroying their crops. But the UN says this was only a fraction of the estimated sixteen thousand dollars per hectare of gross income which a farmer can earn. The move back into poppy production has also reduced the area of irrigatedwheat by about ten per cent. Recently Mr Karzai repeated his government's commitment to eradicating the drug crop. But UN specialists are not so optimistic - they are predicting an even larger crop next year.