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Myanmar’s war on opium

Opium cultivation in Myanmar rose for the sixth consecutive year, according to a UN Report.

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An Afghan man cultivates poppy bulbs at a farm in early May, 2011 near the city of Kandahar, Afghanistan. Myanmar is second to Afghanistan in opium production, according to a UN report released Oct. 31, 2012. (Majid Saeedi/AFP/Getty Images)

The United Nations 2012 South-East Asia Opium Survey, released Wednesday, reported cultivation of the narcotic poppy plant increased for the sixth consecutive year in Myanmar.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, produces 25 percent of the world’s opium. Only Afghanistan cultivates more.

In February, Sit Aye, a legal adviser to Myanmar President Thein Sein, told Reuters the government intended to solve its opium problem by 2014. 

“Myanmar opium poppy cultivation jumped 17 per cent in 2012 to 51,000 hectares (up from 43,000 ha in 2011) in spite of Government claims to have eradicated 23,717 ha of opium poppy — more than three times the 7,058 ha it eradicated in 2011,” the report said.

Gary Lewis, East Asia and the Pacific representative for the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, said, according to the UN, "The opium numbers continue to head in the wrong direction. However we have seen more progress on responding to the root causes of opium cultivation in the past year than we have in the past decade. The international community must now ask 'how can we help?' — and provide resources towards a solution."

Most of Myanmar's opium crop is used to produce heroin, according to the BBC. “About half goes to meet the growing market in China,” the UK news outlet wrote.  China accounts for more than 70 percent of heroin use in East Asia and the Pacific.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/myanmar/121031/myanmar-s-war-opium