Fri, 09 Jun 2023

Kabul [Afghanistan], March 30 (ANI): A campaign to destroy poppy fields has begun in Afghanistan's Herat, TOLO News reported, adding that the campaign will be conducted in each village in the province by the Taliban.

The campaign begins at a time when poppy fields' harvest season is approaching.

"Our operation is underway and hundreds of acres of land has been cleared of poppy in different districts," Hayatullah Rouhani, head of the counter narcotics department of Herat, told TOLO News.

According to Taliban officials, special forces accompany the employees of the counter-narcotics office to ensure the security of the campaign to destroy poppy fields.

"We will accompany the employees of the counter-narcotics department in Herat province," Mohammad Asif Mohammadi, head of the special force of the counter-narcotics office, told TOLO NewsFarmers have, meanwhile, called on the government to help them by providing alternative crops for poppy cultivation.

"We asked the government to help us with alternative crops for poppy," said Ghulam Mohammad, a farmer.

Besides Herat, the campaign is being conducted in Ghor, Badghis, Nimroz and Farah provinces. It is expected that poppy fields in the west of the country will be destroyed ahead of the harvest season, reported TOLO News.

The UK's Cranfield University recently released a statement indicating a research partnership with the United Nations (UN) to help the UN develop artificial intelligence (AI) to support the monitoring of illegal opium production in Afghanistan, Khaama Press reported.

Under the program, the researcher will use AI to interpret satellite imagery, which will help them trace where in Afghanistan, crops are being used for drug production. According to Daniel Simms, a Cranfield University lecturer, the partnership between the University and the UN would last until July 2023.

The report shows that Afghanistan is still the largest producer of poppy cultivation globally. The total poppy cultivation area is estimated at 233,000 hectares, mainly concentrated in the southwestern parts of the country, approximately 73-80 per cent, as reported by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in 2022, according to Khaama Press.

The process will be automated using AI which will enable the monitoring of the extent and evolution of poppy cultivation in the country and help the government tackle the issue of these crops. (ANI)

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