Afghanistan Set Record for Growing Opium in 2014

Ali Meyer | January 6, 2015 | 11:02am EST
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Afhgan opium farmers working in a field in Jalalabad. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

( – After thirteen years of occupation by U.S. forces, Afghanistan set a record for growing opium poppies in 2014, according to data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Heroin is derived from the poppy.

A UNODC report—“Afghanistan Opium Survey 2014”--provides a “detailed picture of the outcome of the current year’s opium season and, together with data from previous years, enable the identification of medium- and long-term trends in the evolution of the illicit drug problem.”

“The total area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan was estimated to be 224,000 hectares in 2014, a 7% increase from the previous year,” says the report.

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Net opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan grew from 209,000 hectares in 2013 to 224,000 hectares in 2014.

The UNODC has been tracking opium cultivation in Afghanistan since 1994, whne net Afghan opium production was 71,000 hectares. The 2014 cultivation of 224,000 hectares was more then triple the 1994 level.

According to the 2014 World Drug Report, also published by the UNODC, Afghanistan by far the world’s largest producer of opium. “The opium production in Afghanistan accounts for 80 percent of the global opium production (5,500 tons),” said that report.

In addition to having record high of opium production in 2014, Afghanistan saw opium poppy eradication decrease 63 percent. “A total of 2,692 hectares of verified poppy eradication was carried out by the provincial governors in 2014, representing a decrease of 63 percent from 2013 when 7,348 hectares of governor-led eradication (GLE) was verified by [Ministry of Counter-Narcotics and UNODC],” states the report.

Hilmand province was Afghanistan’s largest opium cultivator in 2014, producing 103,240 hectares.

“In 2014, 98% of total opium cultivation in Afghanistan took place in the Southern, Eastern and Western regions of the country,” explains the report.

Hilmand province was followed by Kandahar province which produced 33,713 hectares, Farah province which produced 27,513 hectares, Nangarhar which produced 18,227 hectares, Nimroz which produced 14,548 hectares, Uruzgan which produced 9,277 hectares, Badghis which produced 5,721 hectares, Badakhshan which produced 4,204 hectares, Zabul which produced 2,894 hectares, Laghman which produced 901 hectares, Kunar which produced 754 hectares, Hirat which produced 738 hectares, Day Kundi which produced 587 hectares, Ghor which produced 493 hectares, Kapisa which produced 472 hectares, Kabul which produced 233 hectares, and Sari Pul which produced 195 hectares.

Most of the U.S. casualties in Afghan War have occurred in the Hilmand and Kandahar provinces, which are also the two leading opium-growing provinces.

According to’s database of U.S. casualties, from 2001 through 2014, 2,232 U.S. military personnel gave their lives serving in the Afghan War. Of those 2,232 casualties, 451 were in Hilmand province and 420 were in Kandahar. That represents 39 percent of the total casualties in the war.

“There is evidence that Afghan heroin is increasingly reaching new markets, such as Oceania and Southeast Asia, that had been traditionally supplied from Southeast Asia,” the report states.

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