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Afghanistan opium production rises 43 percent: UN drugs report

An Afghan policeman destroys poppies during a campaign against narcotics in Kunar province, April 29, 2014.
Parwiz | Reuters

Opium production in Afghanistan has increased 43 percent in the past year, according to a new report from the United Nations.

Opium can be processed chemically to manufacture illegal drugs such as heroin and Afghanistan is seen as responsible for the vast majority of illegal opiates on the world market.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in the report on Sunday that areas in the country used to plant the opium producing poppy plant had increased to 201,000 hectares, a rise of 10 percent.

UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov, said the new report shows a "worrying reversal" in efforts to combat illegal drugs and their impacts.

While the higher production is in part due to the larger area of cultivation, the UN report also claimed growing fields were also achieving higher yields.

The report said the average yield per hectare had hit 23.8 kilograms per hectare, 30 percent more than in 2015.

The province of Helmand is identified within the study as the main production region, accounting for more than two thirds of Afghanistan's opium output.

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