In 2012, the Opium Risk Assessment is carried out in two phases similar to last year. The first phase was carried out in December 2011 and January 2012 and covered the Central, Eastern, Southern and Western region, where opium is sown in fall 2011.
The second phase took place in February-March 2012 and covered the Northern and North-eastern regions, where opium poppy is cultivated in spring. This report presents the findings of both phases.
The result of this assessment in the Phase-1 regions indicates that the largest opium cultivating provinces, Hilmand and Kandahar, are not likely to see an increase in cultivation despite the current high price of opium. In Hilmand, no major changes in the level of opium cultivation are expected and in Kandahar, opium cultivation is expected to decrease in 2012. The reasons for this development were multiple and differed from area to area. In parts of Hilmand and Kandahar the main dominant reason for declining in poppy cultivation is due to improvement in the security situation, campaign by the government, fear of eradication and agriculture assistance particularly within the Hilmand food zone.
In the western provinces namely Farah, Hirat Ghor and Nimroz, poppy cultivation is expected to increase. Similar increasing trends were reported in eastern region namely Nangarhar, Kunar and Kapisa. However, these provinces would still remain at much lower level of cultivation as compared to Hilmand and Kandahar. The increase in poppy cultivation in Ghor province may lead to the loss of its poppy-free status if poppy eradication is not implemented in time. The remaining provinces in the central and eastern regions, which were poppy-free in 2011, are expected to remain so in 2012.
The result in the Phase-2 Regions indicates that the largest cultivating province in the north-east, Badakhshan is likely to see an increase in opium cultivation this year. The status of opium cultivation in Takhar remains unpredictable due to large part of the province covered with snow during the survey. There would be no major changes expected in opium cultivation in Faryab and Baghlan provinces in the Northern region. These two provinces lost their poppy-free status last year after two years. The remaining provinces in the northern region would remain poppy-free this year as well.
Confirming the findings of the 2011 Afghanistan Opium Survey, the Risk Assessment of this year indicated the strong association between insecurity, lack of agricultural assistance and opium cultivation. Villages with a low level of security and which had not received agricultural assistance in the previous year were significantly more likely to grow poppy in 2012 than villages with good security and those, which had received assistance. Similarly, villages which had been targeted by an anti-poppy awareness campaign were significantly less likely to grow poppy in 2012.
The findings of the Risk Assessment in the Southern region are encouraging. A combination of events seemed to have contributed to this development. Efforts directed against poppy cultivation, increasing government control as well as licit alternatives to poppy may have played a role in preventing farmers from resuming poppy cultivation in the two major poppy growing provinces Hilmand and Kandahar despite the fact that high opium prices provide a strong incentive. However, due attention is required for province like Ghor, which could loose its poppy-free status. Faryab and Baghlan can be poppy free if effective eradication is implemented. The increasing cultivation trends in the Western Eastern and North-eastern regions would also need attention, especially in Nangarhar and Badakhshan provinces, which, in the past, has shown its potential to be major poppy cultivating provinces.
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