Area under opium poppy cultivation and opium production reached a new record high in 2017 In 2017, opium poppy cultivation increased sharply to an unprecedented record high of 328,000 hectares from an estimated 201,000 hectares in 2016. Between 2016 and 2017, the area under cultivation with opium poppy increased by 127,000 hectares – the increase alone exceeded the levels of annual cultivation of 2009 and 2010.
Opium poppy cultivation increased strongly in almost all major poppy cultivating provinces. In Hilmand province alone, cultivation increased by 63,700 hectares (+79 per cent) which accounted for about half of the total national increase between 2016 and 2017. Strong increases were observed also in Balkh (+10,000 hectares or almost five times more than in 2016), Kandahar (+7,500 hectares or +37 per cent), Nimroz (+6,200 hectares or +116 per cent), and Uruzgan (+6,000 hectares or +39 per cent).
Mainly caused by the increase in area under cultivation but as well due to good yields, potential opium production almost doubled from its 2016 level (4,800 tons) to 9,000 tons in 2017. Accounting for 57 per cent of national production, the Southern region continued to produce the vast majority of opium in Afghanistan, followed by the Northern (16 per cent of national production), Western (13 per cent) and Eastern regions (9 per cent).