Taliban chief orders ban on poppy cultivation in Afghanistan



Taliban chief orders ban on poppy cultivation in Afghanistan

4 April 2022

By AFP / France 24

Afghanistan is the world's biggest producer of poppies, the source of sap that is refined into heroin, and in recent years production and exports have only boomed.

"All Afghans are informed that from now on cultivation of poppy has been strictly prohibited across the country," said a decree issued by Supreme Leader Hibatullah Akhundzada.

The order was read out by government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid at a gathering of reporters, foreign diplomats and Taliban officials.

"If anyone violates the decree the crop will be destroyed immediately and the violator will be treated according to the sharia law," it added.

It is not the first time the fundamentalist group has vowed to outlaw the trade. Production was banned in 2000, just before the group was overthrown by US-led forces in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

During their 20-year insurgency against foreign forces, the Taliban heavily taxed farmers cultivating the crop in areas under their control, experts have said.

It became a key resource for the group to generate funds.

Poppy farmer Abdul Rahman told AFP that Sunday's ban was a blow to his livelihood.

"We have taken loans to cultivate this... If these crops are destroyed our income will be gone," said Rahman, who is from the southern province of Kandahar -- the Taliban's de facto power centre.