MYANMAR HAS recorded a whopping 29 per cent growth in opium cultivation
in 2007, helping it retain it slot as the world’s second largest opium producer after Afghanistan, according to fresh findings by the United Nations office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
There is a discernable rise in Myanmar’s opium cultivation
once again. It has increased from 21,500 to 27,700 hectares with production figures of 460 tonnes, the agency in it latest report released last week said.
Though Myanmar was the largest opium producer in the past following Afghanistan, the country’s production and cultivation had decreased as of 1998.
“Over the past few years Myanmar has been priced out of the opium market by much higher yields and cultivation in Afghanistan, leading to a drop in production,” Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of UNODC said in the report.
"Nevertheless, the sharp increase in the percentage of opium grown in Myanmar in 2007 is worrisome and undermines progress towards a drug-free South East Asia” the UN drugs chief said in the report.
Myanmar’s production and cultivation saw a marked decline since 1998 from its peak production of 1,760 tonnes in 1996. In 2004 the country’s opium production fell to 370 tonnes and further went down to 312 tonnes in 2005, the UNODC said.
The reports based on satellite images and ground verification, in 2005 said the areas under opium poppy cultivation dropped from 44,200 hectares in 2004 to 32,800 hectares in 2005. It further went down to 21,500 hectares in 2006.
A concerted eradication drive over the past decades has helped bring down opium cultivation in the Golden Triangle - Laos, Burma and Thailand – and it now produces only five percent of the world's deadliest drug - the rest comes from Afghanistan, the report added.
Thailand has been opium-free for almost 20 years and Laos has cut opium production by 94 per cent in less than a decade, the agency said.
But interestingly right across the border in Thailand in Three Pagoda Pass, Myanmar, Marijuana
is easily available along with Amphetamine. Marijuana
is said to be very cheap, making it accessible to a majority of the youth. But amphetamine is costly.
is available for 500 Kyat (Myanmar currency) a kilogram. A lot of Marijuana
is cultivated in the area. Some families in the small villages of Three Pagoda Pass Township grow it leading to increasing addiction.
Authorities in Thailand regularly arrest amphetamine dealers, but the Myanmarese authorities have only arrested two such dealers in five years.
Article from Merinews.com