Friday February 17, 2017
TEHRAN (FNA) Deputy Head of Iran's Anti-Drug Headquarters Assadollah Hadinejad declared his country's readiness to help Afghanistan to replace its poppy cultivation with another agricultural crop. "The official stressed that Afghan farmers could replace poppy cultivation with other agricultural products, including sesame and corn, and sell them to Iran," Hadinejad said on Tuesday. He reiterated that all border areas of Iran-Afghanistan have been blocked to prevent the entry of opium into the country. Hadinejad's remarks came after the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) announced that Afghanistan’s poppy cultivation has risen to its third-highest level in more than 20 years. The total area of land used for poppy cultivation in Afghanistan had risen by 10 percent to 201,000 hectares (497,000 acres) in 2016, UNODC reported. Opium poppy cultivation, a favorite activity of the Taliban, used to be limited to certain parts of Afghanistan; however, the surge in militancy and the government’s loss of grip on security has allowed it to spread to other parts of the country, particularly the North.