Afghan Poppy Crop Hits Record High

Even though the U.S. has spent $7.6 billion to dismantle Afghanistan’s opium industry, the country’s opium poppy growth hit an all-time high last year. “The recent record-high level of poppy cultivation calls into question the long-term effectiveness and sustainability,” said special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction John F. Sopko in a report to be released Tuesday. In 2013, Afghanistan surpassed the 2007 record for the amount of land to grow poppies, and the industry made $3 billion, up from $2 billion in 2012. Sopko isn’t optimistic about the ability of future U.S. efforts to curb opium growth in Afghanistan, either. “With deteriorating security in many parts of Afghanistan and low levels of eradication of poppy fields, further increases in cultivation are likely in 2014,” he said.