Afghan poppy cultivation falls by 85pc under Taliban rule, new analysis shows

After a year-long ban, experts are waiting to see if the Taliban’s edict will last for a second season, which starts each November with the planting of poppy seeds. 

“We are in uncharted waters,” said Dr David Mansfield, a UK expert on illicit economies in Afghanistan, in comments that accompanied Alcis’ analysis.

The last time the Taliban were in power, Dr Mansfield explained, their crackdown on poppy cultivation was swiftly ended following 9/11 and the regime’s subsequent collapse. 

“It could be argued that there is much greater potential for a more enduring ban this time round, given that when the Taliban seized Kabul in August 2021, they inherited a very different country with established government institutions and a much larger economy,” he added.

Graeme Smith, an Afghanistan expert at Crisis Group, told the Telegraph in July that the Taliban crackdown has so far been “the most successful counter-narcotics effort in human history, according to the volume of drugs taken off the market”.

However, Dr Mansfield said there “is already considerable evidence that the current ban has not been uniformly accepted by the rural population or by those within the Taliban’s own ranks responsible for implementing it.”

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