The United Nations and the Afghan government have released a new joint survey showing that opium production in the restive country has almost doubled so far in 2017 compared to last year.
According to the survey, the opium production rose by 87 percent and stands at a record level of 9,000 metric tons (9,921 US tons) so far this year, compared to 4,800 metric tons (5,291 US tons) in 2016.
The Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported an increase of 63 percent in the area under opium poppy cultivation.
The area that cultivated the poppy increased from just 201,000 hectares (496,671 acres) in 2016 to 328,000 hectares (810,488 acres) this year.
“It is high time for the international community and Afghanistan to reprioritize drug control, and to acknowledge that every nation has a shared responsibility for this global problem,” the UNODC’s Executive Director Yury Fedotov said in a statement.
The increase in production is mainly caused by the rise in the area under poppy cultivation.
The survey also showed that the number of Afghan provinces cultivating poppy rose from 21 to 24, with Ghazni, Samangan and Nuristan provinces also becoming poppy growing regions. There are reportedly only 10 poppy-free provinces in the country.
Afghanistan is the world’s top cultivator of poppy, from which opium and heroin are produced. The Taliban militants are heavily involved in the poppy cultivation and opium distribution especially in areas under their control.