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UN: Myanmar Second Largest Producer of Opium

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TEHRAN, May 19 (ICANA) – Myanmar military and ethnic minority armed groups over the last few decades.
Thursday, May 19, 2011 10:36:17 PM
UN: Myanmar Second Largest Producer of Opium

These particular poppy fields are situated in Shan State where according to experts, a majority of towns are involved in opium production due to a combination of food insecurity, poverty and ongoing conflict.

Latest reports show a significant surge in opium production in the country between 2010 and 2011.

The United Nations Office On Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has named Myanmar the second largest producer of opium in the world, next to Afghanistan. According to their report for the last season, the country has 3,200 hectares of land under opium poppy cultivation, that is an increase by 11 percent from the previous year and 50 percent more than in 2006.

Yet, the Myanmar government has insisted that they have been successful in curbing opium production.

But, not according to a 63 year old farmer from northern Shan State who has been producing poppy for many years. She explains that local authorities charges taxes on the poppy seeds that she produces.

Researchers confirm such civilian testimonials, explaining that the presence of known drug lords in the Myanmar parliament attests to the complicit involvement of the government in the flourishing drug trade.

According to UNODC, the flourishing opium trade in Shan State is largely due to production under ethnic rebel groups such as the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the Kokang. But, in recent years the active involvement of local and central government authorities has contributed to a surge in production. It is widely known that both sides are responsible for continued refinement of opium into heroin.

The impact can be felt locally, in Shan communities where opium addiction among young men increased by 85 percent in 2009 and regionally, in neighboring countries such as China where 600,000 cases of addiction were registered in Yunnan province alone.

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