Practice English everyday with VOA Special English

Friday, May 24, 2013 | Latest audio lessons → VOA Learning English

Afghan Farmers Again Increase Poppy Crop

From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report.

Afghan farmers are expecting another big harvest this year, but officials at the United Nations and around the world see no reason to celebrate. The crop is opium. Farmers have been busy harvesting their opium poppies. One farmer in Helmand province says wheat and corn bring too little income. He says people in Helmand cannot feed themselves by growing food crops.

A report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime warns that Afghanistan could supply as much as 90 percent of the world's heroin. The report says opium production is especially high in the most unstable areas of Afghanistan. These are areas where the surge increase in American troops helped beat back Taliban influence.

The report says insurgents used the insecurity in areas like Helmand and Kandahar province as a chance to win popular support. They also assisted opium farmers with their crops.

The UN says poor weather and crop disease led to a reduction in the supply of opium last year, which drove up prices. The higher price of opium makes more farmers want to grow poppies. The UN says this is the third year in a row that opium poppy-growing has increased in Afghanistan.

A UN special adviser on drug issues says the huge opium crop is a sign of failure. He adds that while farmers are dependent on the income from opium, 1 million people in the country are addicted to the drug. The increase in production follows gains made by the government during years of effort to reduce the drug trade.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Laurel Bowman. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 30Apr2013)