KABUL, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- The cultivation of opium poppy has expanded in Afghanistan this year amid increased violence and clashes across the country, according to a joint report issued here on Sunday.
"Opium production in Afghanistan rose by 43 percent to 4,800 metric tons in 2016 compared with 2015 levels. The area under opium poppy cultivation also increased to 201,000 hectares in 2016, a rise of 10 percent compared with 183,000 ha in 2015," said UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in a written statement.
According to findings of the report entitled "Afghanistan Opium Survey 2016" released by the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and the UNODC, the increase in potential production of illegal opium was due to "the larger area under opium poppy cultivation, but the most important driver is the higher opium yield per hectare."
Vast majority of world's opium poppy, the raw element for making heroin, has been cultivated in the mountainous country, particularly in western and southern parts of the country, where the government security forces have little presence.
"The largest yield increase occurred in the Western region where the average yield grew by 37 percent and the Southern region, with a 36 percent rise. Since these two regions account for 84 percent of the total opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, the yield increases in these regions had a strong impact on the national potential opium production," the statement noted.
"The new report shows a worrying reversal in efforts to combat the persistent problem of illicit drugs and their impact on development, health and security," Yury Fedotov, UNODC executive director, was quoted in the statement as saying.
He has urged the international community to lend their support to achieving the sustainable development goals in Afghanistan, including vital work on a peaceful and inclusive society, health, poverty, peace, and gender, among many others, the statement noted.
The report also revealed a setback in the fight against the illegal drugs, particularly a decrease in the eradication of poppy fields.
"A total of 355 hectares of poppy eradication was carried out by the provincial Governors in 2016. This represented a decrease of 91 percent from 2015 when 3,760 hectares were eradicated. In 2016, eradication took place in seven provinces, compared to 12 provinces in 2015," according to the statement.
"During the latest eradication campaign eight lives were lost and seven people were injured. In 2015, five lives were lost and 18 people were injured."
In 2015, some 3,300 tons of opium was produced in Afghanistan and some 1.9 million to 2.4 million adult drug addicts have been living in the country.