§ Lord Blaker
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Further to the statement by Baroness Amos on 5 November that "in July last year the Taliban effectively banned opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan" (HL Deb, col. 98), whether the ban is still in force; if so, whether it has been effective in preventing such cultivation; and, if not, whether the opium poppy is now grown in that country. [HL1222]
§ Baroness Amos
The Taliban announced a ban on opium poppy cultivation last year but not on the stockpiling or trafficking of drugs. According to the United Nations International Drug Control Programme, opium production in the areas under Taliban control was 21 tonnes in 2001 compared with 3,139 tonnes in 2000. It is not clear whether the ban is still in force or how the recent advances by the Northern Alliance will affect opium poppy cultivation.
The opium poppy planting season in Afghanistan is from October to December. And the crop is usually harvested between April and July. It is too early to tell how much opium is currently being grown in Afghanistan or how much will be harvested next year.