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Afghanistan seeks help in drugs fight

16 January, 2014

VIENNA: Afghanistan needs more financial assistance for its anti-narcotics fight after opium cultivation hit a record high last year, a government minister said on Wednesday, as international forces prepare to leave the country.

Afghanistan is the world's top cultivator of the poppy, from which opium and heroin are produced. Despite more than a decade of efforts to wean farmers off the crop, fight corruption and cut links between drugs and the Taliban insurgency, poppy expanded to 209,000 hectares (516,000 acres) in 2013, up 36 percent from the previous year.

"To convince the Afghan farmers to stop cultivating poppy we need to provide them with alternative livelihoods," Din Mohammad Mobariz Rashidi, minister of counter narcotics, said after talks with UN anti-drugs chief Yury Fedotov.

"More financial resources are needed to combat this phenomenon more effectively," he told Reuters, estimating that $7 billion had been spent on the issue in the past 12 years.

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