Stat of the month: Drugs headache - £1.5bn - Value of Afghanistan's opium exports

Coalition forces may have rid Afghanistan of Taliban rule, but they cooked up a major problem in the process - the country's illicit opium exports are booming. Afghanistan is near to becoming the world's biggest narcotics supplier, now accounting for a startling 92% of global opium production. It produced 6,100 metric tons of the stuff in 2006 - a 49% increase on the previous year. It all represents a major headache for the coalition forces. A huge number of Afghan farmers rely on poppy crops for income and survival, and efforts to destroy these have made them resentful of the foreign presence. In Britain, crime committed to support drug habits is costing £16bn a year, but no-one has yet proposed a viable plan to solve the problem. Members of the Scottish parliament have called for international governments to buy up Afghanistan's opium crops and destroy them. The idea largely fell on deaf ears. It may reduce conflict on the ground in Afghanistan, and the amount of heroin that reaches addicts on the street. But can governments really be seen to be funding drug production?

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

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