Managing Concurrent and Repeated Risks: Explaining the Reductions in Opium Production in Central Helmand Between 2008 and 2011

Managing Concurrent and Repeated Risks: Explaining the Reductions in Opium Production in Central Helmand Between 2008 and 2011 Published by the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, August 2011

David Mansfield

“This paper seeks to explore what factors have driven recent reductions in poppy cultivation in Helmand and how sustainable they are. It finds that while household concerns about food security because of high wheat prices were key in driving down poppy cultivation between 2008 and 2009, the coercive power of the Afghan state and international military forces has been significant in determining levels of cultivation in central Helmand in 2010 and 2011. Sustainability of these effects will vary among different communities.

Eradication delivery by year and force on ten year double cropping ability

Eradication delivery by year and force on ten year double cropping ability

“Broadly speaking, this research suggests that reductions in poppy cultivation are:

  • most sustainable among communities close to urban centres with access to diverse income opportunities, government support programmes and better security;
  • least sustainable among communities that have responded to the government’s poppy ban but lack viable alternatives and remain exposed to violence and intimidation by both sides in the conflict;
  • and non-existent among a growing number of communities in the desert north of the Boghra Canal where opium production has provided the means to own and cultivate land, and the Taliban is increasingly seen to provide a relatively secure environment for households to secure income and accumulate assets.”

Read the paper [PDF]