Pubdate: Mon, 29 Jan 2007
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2007 The Edmonton Journal
Author: G.D. Harle


Recent news stories have noted that Afghan farmers are again planning 
to plant and harvest their traditional poppy crops.

This has justifiably raised concerns that the opium harvested will 
find its way into the illegal drug trade. U.S. officials have 
stressed the need to destroy the next poppy crop, either by burning 
it or by the use of herbicide sprays.

Other articles have stated that the world is short of opiates as a 
base for pain-killing drugs.

In light of the foregoing, one cannot help but wonder if NATO or the 
U.S. has considered buying the entire Afghan poppy crop to direct it 
to legitimate drug use purposes, thus denying both the drug lords and 
the Taliban the proceeds from the illegitimate drug trade.

To be sure, there is a price tag involved, but it's probably less 
than the cost created by alienating another segment of the Afghan 
population. All options should be considered to improve rapport with 
the Afghans and to allow the reconstruction programs to progress.

Contracting to buy the crop rather than destroying it, and thus 
further alienating poor Afghan farmers, should pay positive dividends 
in the long run. Agriculture experts could then assist the Afghans in 
developing other crops, while phasing out the poppy culture.

We have to think outside the box for solutions to help resolve the 
Afghanistan quagmire. The foregoing approach should be given some 
consideration as part of the rebuilding process.

G.D. Harle,

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