Regarding the April 16 letter, “Way to victory in Afghanistan“: If the United States and other Western countries involved in Afghanistan buy the poppy harvest at above market price and then destroy it (as the letter writer recommends) this will only encourage those who now do not cultivate opium to begin doing so. The Taliban and other militant groups earned $300 million through opium trafficking in 2007, most of which was used to fund their insurgency against the Afghan government and NATO troops. Therefore, efforts should be made to eradicate opium cultivation in Afghanistan.
The best and most lucrative alternative for the poppy cultivation is saffron. Farmers can earn more money growing saffron than poppy as 1 kg of saffron costs between $4,000 to $12,000 on the international market, and saffron does not require as much labor or water as poppy plants. Saffron fields are irrigated just once or twice in the winter.
The letter writer also mentions that the U.S. could send its own unemployed professionals to work with the Afghans to develop their communities. However, there are already a lot of foreigners working in Afghanistan who earn very high salaries compared to local staff, and this is creating concern among Afghans that a significant amount of the aid money given to Afghanistan is being used to pay these high salaries.
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