The Independent: The deadly blooms of Helmand: Afghan farmers turn to the opium crop, despite the police's best efforts

The income from opium can beat that from conventional crops twelve-fold, and comes with protection courtesy of the Taliban

Ghulam Hassan is in the mood to celebrate Eid, the biggest religious festival of the Afghan year, three months early. His 1.5-acre farm in a small village in Helmand province has been blooming with white and crimson flowers. Now the petals are just beginning to drop, giving way to round, sticky, pungent green pods. In a few more days the pods will swell to the size of a bulb. This is when Mr Hassan’s family of 14 will move in. They will carefully slice open the bulbs and collect the oozing white latex or resin – the main ingredient in heroin.

“This is a bumper crop. The yield will be enough to feed my family for more than a year,” Mr Hassan said, gazing gleefully at his poppy field just outside the village of Hajj Alam in the Nehri Saraj district.

Update #1: Afghan poppy farmers say new seeds will boost opium output -- AP
Update #2: Menacing Afghan Opium Increases, Amid Taliban Strength, Revealed in Special Inspector General Report -- Forbes

WNU Editor: It looks like the Islamic State now wants a part of the action .... ISIS wants access to Afghanistan’s opium and drugs, says Atmar (Khaama Press).

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