U.S. Uses Incentives to Stop Afghan Farmers from Producing Poppies
The Obama administration is implementing a new $300-million program to discourage Afghan farmers from growing poppies by providing them with incentives to start growing other crops, such as wheat and corn, the Wall Street Journal reported Aug. 14.
The U.S. will provide small grants to Afghan businesses that process and store food, pay for new roads and irrigation systems, and sell seed and livestock to Afghan farmers at a deep discount.
Earlier attempts to eradicate poppy fields in Afghanistan only helped to alienate farmers and to drive them to work with the Taliban, according to Richard Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“We’re trying to give the farmers alternatives so they can move away from the poppy culture without suffering massive unemployment and poverty,” said Rory Donohoe, the official at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) who is heading up this new program. “The idea is to make it easier for farmers to make the right choice.”
A similar USAID program in eastern Nangarhar Province is credited with transforming the region into a poppy-free zone, according to U.S. officials.
Despite the added incentives to stop producing poppies, farmers will still have to contend with challenges such as wheat and corn production being less profitable than opium and pressure from the Taliban to continue growing poppies.