To support United Nations drug control efforts in one of Myanmar's main opium producing regions, the Government of Japan will provide $1.2 million towards a project expected to contribute to increasing the food security of opium farmers, improving their living standard, and eventually eradicating opium poppy cultivation.
Japan's grant will help fund the Drug Control and Development Project in the Wa Region of the Shan State in Myanmar, a key component of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) overall "alternative development" project, which has substantially reduced the number of poppy cultivating areas throughout Myanmar. UN efforts in the Region will include training in the construction of an irrigation system, building community capacity to manage and monitor the system, developing flat paddy fields, and introducing double cropping of rice.
"The Myanmar experience offers the evidence that alternative development, along with eradication and law-enforcement efforts, represents a vital part of the effective drug supply reduction strategy," UNODC Executive Director, Antonio Maria Costa, said following the announcement of the grant in Vienna today.
According to the UNODC 2002 Annual Opium Poppy Survey, with an estimated production of 828 tons in 2002 - although 25 per cent less than the previous year - Myanmar is the second largest producer of opium in the world. The first is Afghanistan with an estimated 3,400 tons in 2002.
The UNODC alternative development project in Myanmar - launched in 1998 with an $11.6 million budget - aims at establishing sustainable, community-based development, in order to provide farmers an alternative to growing opium. In 2001, Japan contributed $200,000 for the implementation of a health-related component of the project.