A U.N. report has lauded the efforts of the Balkh province as an exemplary effort worthy But the report also voices concern over the increase in marijuana cultivation in places which were earlier the stronghold of opium.
This is only an interim relief to Afghanistan from prevailing drug problems. A scrutiny of the fields of the Balkh province showed that in place of opium poppies, cannabis cultivation is being practiced.
More than half of Afghanistan's provinces grow cannabis. According to reports, the Cannabis cultivation shot up to 40 percent in Afghanistan this year.
The Cannabis crop is profitable for cultivation and yields marijuana and hashish. Apparently this seems to have escaped the scrutiny of the Afghan officials.
One of the farmers explained how he grows cannabis mainly for survival to feed his children, despite knowing that it is illegal. This was the outcome of the apathy on the part of the government to provide alternatives for farmers.
Explaining the government's inability to check the cultivation of marijuana, Gen. Khodaidad, Afghanistan's acting counter-narcotics minister said, "This is also a big problem for Afghanistan. It is very cheap. Hashish is more harmful (than poppies) to the people of Afghanistan."
Farmers say that it may be profitable to grow cannabis as the crop can yield twice as much per acre compared to opium poppies and needs less investment. This means those farmers who do not cultivate opium poppy could actually earn well with cannabis cultivation
Nearly 93% of the world's opium is grown in Afghanistan.