Opium production in Afghanistan increased this year to one of the highest levels on record as efforts to eradicate the crop in a country that provides much of the world’s heroin collapsed, the United Nations said on Wednesday.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reports annually on opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, the world’s biggest producer of opium and heroin, and is due to give its yearly update towards the end of this month.
“Unfortunately, preliminary results suggest that illicit cultivation has increased well above 200,000 hectares (494,000 acres),” UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said in the text of a speech prepared for delivery to an international conference on Afghanistan in Brussels.
That would make it one of the top three years since the UNODC began providing estimates in 1994, according to previous reports by the Vienna-based agency. The greatest area recorded to date was 224,000 hectares in 2014.