On May 26, 2018, a host of TV Obiektivi and the Leader of Neutral/Socialist Georgia party, Valeri Kvaratskhelia, stated during a TV programme “Golden Cut” that drug production in Afghanistan increased 40 times since the intervention of the US Army. He claimed that the United States turned Afghanistan into a world heroin factor, and drugs – into a strong geopolitical instrument.
Valeri Kvaratskhelia’s statement is false and his data does not correspond to the statistics of cultivation and production of opium poppy in Afghanistan. The myth that opium production in Afghanistan increased 40 times since the intervention of US Army has been around for five years already; its initial source is the Russian Government’s propagandist media – Russia Today.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) produces and disseminates accurate statistics on opium poppy cultivation and opium production in Afghanistan. According to the data for 2015, net opium poppy cultivation decreased by 19% compared to previous year that was followed by 40% growth in opium eradication.
As far as opium production is concerned, compared to 2014 its production decreased by 48% in 2015- if in 2014 potential production was 6 400 tons, in 2015 this figure decreased to 3 300 tons. According to UNODC’s statistics, in 2002 production increased significantly compared to 2001 – only 185 tons of opium was produced in 2001 and in 2002 this figure increased to 3 400 tons. It should be noted that compared to previous years, sharp decrease in production was observed in 2001, while in 2002 production rates returned to average amount of 1994-2000 years.
Opium production in Afghanistan in 1994-2002 (tons)
|3 400||2 300||2 200||2 800||4 700||4 600||3 300||185||3 400|
The research has revealed that Russian government-owned news agency RT (Russia Today) disseminated information in April 2013 according to which drug production increased 40 times in Afghanistan after the U.S. troops intervened in the country. RT quotes Victor Ivanov, the head of Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service, as saying that “heroin production in Afghanistan increased 40 times since NATO began its ‘War on Terror’ in 2001.”