We have already slightly touched upon this theme in a previous post, but today we offer you a unique chance to see the full process of destruction of poppy fields in Afghanistan.
The operation starts in the early morning.
It’s quite easy to find poppy fields as almost all the slopes in the vicinity of Faizabad are dotted with them.
They can be both tiny lawns with an area of a few tens meters and vast, stretching beyond the horizon grasslands.
All the policemen are well armed. They understand that growing poppies is the only income for most peasants. There were cases when a field was mined and the policemen were shot at.
A support group.
A field is destroyed in two phases. First, poppy stems are cut down with sticks. Second, a field is plowed up. According to one of the policemen, the first phase is important because it prevents peasants from replanting poppy crops.
The residents of nearby villages get involved in the work too.
Beautiful poppy flowers!
Women and children run out into the field. They cry and throw themselves under sticks. A month later, they might have reaped the harvest and sold it. For many of them this money was the only way to survive another year in this godforsaken place.
Now they have very few options. They can start to work and grow other crops, go to the Taliban or starve.
Having lost everything, many people choose the second option and join the Taliban. The latter often come to the villages after such raids and recruit new members. People in despair are ready for anything…
Here they become suicide bombers so that tomorrow revenge themselves on the police and the military men.
Before a camera, the policemen work with double diligence.
But in fact, they destroy only about half of the crops.
Don’t cry, little girl. Soon the uncle with a camera will leave and your fields will be left in peace. You’ll grow up and won’t have any other skills, except for those of how to grow poppies. After all, heroin is the only thing that Afghanistan produces.
A policeman shows how to make heroin from poppies.
To make the work easier and more entertaining, they wet a cigarette with poppy milk. The action “Bees against honey” begins.
According to some American soldiers, the current U.S. program to combat Afghan drug trafficking which focuses on the destruction of poppy fields is a “waste of money”.
“Yes, the program did destroy a number of acres of poppies, but eventually it just plays into the hands of the Taliban, because, on the one hand, it doesn’t reduce the income from the drug trade, and on the other hand, it forces the Afghan peasants dissatisfied with the destruction of their crops join the ranks of the gunmen.”
The new program aims to create such conditions in which Afghan peasants would realize that to grow other plants is more profitable.
The boy with a GPS navigator, a notebook and a camera works with the police. He makes photographs of all the fields before and after work, writes down all the coordinates. He is obliged to report back to the Americans.
The owners of poppy fields.
A tractor does its job.
That’s how the field looks after destruction.
Helicopters monitor the situation.
Then the policemen gather all the locals and lecture them about the danger of drug production. The peasants are told how they can earn money growing other crops.
The peasants sit and look at the policeman who has just smoked a “funny cigarette”. His head shakes in a strange way, his speech is indistinct. At this moment, they most probably do think that drugs are bad.
NATO believes that the problem of drug production in Afghanistan should be solved very carefully so that not to lose the loyalty of local residents. “We can’t deprive these people living in the second-poorest country in the world of the only source of income without providing them with any alternative.”
But they seem to have already been provided with the above mentioned alternative – more than half of the crops remained untouched.
In the end, the U.S. funds will have wonderful reports from the boy with the notebook which will show how bravely Afghan soldiers destroyed the poppy crops. The government will allocate another several million dollars to fight against drug production. And, in a month, local peasants will probably have a record poppy harvest…