When NATO alliance forces roll out of Afghanistan in 2014, the fogs of another war could continue billowing out from the country’s southern and western provinces. Opium poppy production is booming in these regions, where Afghan farmers grew 18 percent more of the stuff this year than last, according to a UN Office of Drugs and Crime statement issued today. Farmers tended 154,000 hectares of opium poppy this year alone—that’s up from 131,000 in 2011.
Why? High prices. The going rate for a kilo of Afghan poppy, which accounts for a staggering 80 percent of global supply, may’ve slumped this year, down from $242 in 2011 to $196. But the price farmers stand to gain per kilo still far exceeds 2008 and 2009’s prices, meaning that farmers will most likely plant poppy again this coming season.