New UN survey reveals surge in Myanmar’s opium production
A report released today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) shows that while a decades-long eradication drive had slashed opium production in South-East Asia, cultivation in Myanmar has risen by nearly 30 per cent this year.
Presenting the 2007 report on opium cultivation in South-East Asia, UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said that while the so-called Golden Triangle – comprising Laos, Myanmar and Thailand – is no longer a major supplier of opium, the situation in Myanmar is “extremely alarming.”
Thailand has been opium-free for almost 20 years and Laos has cut opium production by 94 per cent in less than a decade, according to the report.
At the same time, opium cultivation rose by 29 per cent – and production by 46 per cent – in 2007 in Myanmar, thereby solidifying the country’s position as the world’s second largest opium producer after Afghanistan.
The report revealed that opium cultivation is highly concentrated in one area of the Myanmar, namely South and East Shan states, which accounts for 90 per cent of all opium grown in the country, Mr. Costa said.
In addition, there has been a “dangerous switch” in drug production away from opium to a significant increase in methamphetamines which lead to greater profits than that generated by opium.
He called for strengthening controls to prevent precursors from getting into Myanmar and for more forceful anti-corruption measures.
It is also important for the international community to assist farmers so they can find alternative sources of income and thus abandon opium production, he added.