U.N. Agency Declares Afghan Province ‘Nearly Poppy-Free’
By Navy Lt. Neil Myers
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 21, 2008 – The United Nations Office of Drugs and
Crime recently declared Afghanistan’s Konar province to be “nearly
poppy-free” in 2006 and 2007. |
During a July 6 trip to the province, Afghanistan’s minister for
counternarcotics, Gen. Khodaidad, announced that Konar has qualified
for two monetary awards totaling $750,000 from the Counternarcotics
counter-narcotics and government officials speak with members of the
media during a groundbreaking at the new Konar Teacher Training Center
in downtown Abad, July 6, 2008. Courtesy photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Gov. Sayed Fazlullah Wahidi and his provincial council decided to use
$420,000 of that money to upgrade the Konar Teacher Training College
with a 60-room dormitory, dining facility and meeting hall. A lack of
dormitories requires students of either to commute or to rent local
accommodations while attending school.
“This is a great day
for Konar and Afghanistan”, said Navy Cmdr. Daniel Dwyer, Konar
Provincial Reconstruction Team commander. “When you see the government
of Afghanistan, on its own, bringing projects to its people that
provide for long-term jobs and economic growth, it shows everyone that
progress is well on its way.”
After Khodaidad’s remarks,
Wahidi, members of parliament and the delegation moved to the site of
the future college facilities for the ceremonial groundbreaking.
province is devoted to eliminating poppy in spite of the many problems
facing farmers,” said Khudaidaad, who thanked the province’s elders,
who have been campaigning against narcotics.
Wahidi and the
Provincial Development Council have not yet decided whether they want
to spend the rest of the money on one large provincial project or
distribute it for small, district-level projects. The governor said
that he will spend some of the money to build irrigation canals and to
make educational improvements.
“The people of Konar deserve
the credit for the poppy eradication,” Wahidi said. “All the tribal
elders and people of Konar are committed to putting an end to this
[poppy] seed, because the smuggling, trafficking and growing of
narcotics is forbidden by Islam.”
(Navy Lt. Neil Myers serves with the Konar Provincial Reconstruction Team.)
|Military Connection's Comments:
The Taliban and al-Qaida have made multi millions of dollars off the opium trade. They have used that money to purchase weapons and train militants to kill the Afghan people and the Afghan forces. Poppy fields have also been a source of income for Afghan farmers. The profits of the opium trade are so high that there has been corruption among members of the Afghan government. The United States Aid Program launched its Alternative Livelihoods Program (ALP) to provide economic alternatives to the production of poppy in Afghanistan. The program is key to the counter-narcotics strategy. It is designed to accelerate economic growth in the provinces of Afghanistan. Konar province has almost eliminated poppy growth and look forward to the total eradication of poppy farming.