What is causing the poppy plague?
The worst affected farmers have said the scale of the infection is unprecedented…
Yields have dropped by up to 90 per cent in some fields they complained. Farmers are claiming that the British and Americans are responsible for the outbreak of the poppy plague but officials have strongly denied involvement. Samples of diseased plants are awaiting tests in Kabul and the cause remains unclear.
The country grows about 90 per cent of the world’s opium. Tithes and protection money from the drug trade are estimated to give up to £60m a year to the Taliban-led insurgency. The allies have spent billions of pounds trying to cut opium cultivation, but have rejected crop spraying, fearing that robbing farmers of their livelihood will push them to the militants. The British-led anti-drugs strategy has instead tried to wean farmers from opium on to wheat, saffron and fruit.