Myanmar opium farming booming after coup: UN

Opium poppy manufacturing in Myanmar ramped up dramatically following the 2021 army coup, the UN’s medicine workplace mentioned Thursday, as political and financial turmoil drove farmers to domesticate the crop.

The nation’s financial system has been paralysed following the army energy seize in February 2021 and subsequent combating between the junta and anti-coup rebels.

The world of land used for opium poppy cultivation expanded by a 3rd to simply over 40,000 hectares in 2021-22 — the primary full rising season because the coup — in response to a United Nations Workplace on Medicine and Crime (UNODC) report launched Thursday.

The potential output additionally shot up by practically 90 p.c in contrast with the earlier yr, to 790 tonnes.

The outcomes present that there’s a “vital enlargement” of Myanmar’s opium financial system, the UNODC report mentioned.

“Financial, safety and governance disruptions that adopted the army takeover of February 2021 have converged, and farmers… have had little possibility however to maneuver again to opium,” UNODC regional consultant Jeremy Douglas mentioned.

“The expansion we’re witnessing within the drug enterprise is instantly related to the disaster the nation is going through.”

The report, primarily based on satellite tv for pc imagery and fieldwork, mentioned the downward pattern in opium manufacturing seen from 2014 to 2020 had gone into reverse.

– Financial hit –

The UNODC estimates Myanmar’s opium financial system is price round $2 billion — the equal of as much as three p.c of the nation’s GDP in 2021.

Regardless of the spike in manufacturing, farm gate costs for opium have additionally soared to round $280 a kilo, the report mentioned — a 69 p.c rise on the earlier yr.

This compares with a farm gate value of round $203 in Afghanistan, the world’s main opium producer.

However the report mentioned greater incomes from opium should not translating into larger shopping for energy for farmers, due to greater petrol and fertiliser costs on account of the Ukraine battle.

A mix of the pandemic and the aftermath of the coup hammered Myanmar’s financial system with an 18 p.c contraction in 2021, in response to the World Financial institution.

Round 40 p.c of the inhabitants was residing in poverty in 2022, and Douglas mentioned monetary hardship had compelled many labourers to go away city areas to work in poppy cultivation within the countryside.

Farmers want outdoors help to spice up their livelihoods rising different crops to compete with the opium financial system, UNODC Myanmar nation supervisor Benedikt Hofmann mentioned.

“Opium cultivation is de facto about economics, and it can’t be resolved by destroying crops which solely escalates vulnerabilities,” he mentioned.

The report cited figures from Myanmar’s Central Committee for Drug Abuse Management stating 1,403 hectares of opium poppies had been eradicated by the top of final yr — a 70 p.c decline on the earlier yr.


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