Friday, October 9, 2009

Tackling the poppy in Helmand

Following a 33% cut in poppy cultivation last year Gulab Mangal the Helmand Governor and Mark Sedwill the UK Ambassador to Afghanistan joined forces to promote this year’s campaign to cut the crop further.

For the second year running the Helmand Food Zone Programme is tackling the problem.

This year the target being set is even higher and already the scheme is being expanded to cover eight districts including Kanashin for the first time where US Marines have helped stabilise the area.

The programme will provide wheat seed and fertiliser to more than 39,000 Helmandi farmers to help them grow wheat rather than poppy.

To promote the programme Governor Mangal is touring Helmand. Yesterday he visited Sangin, where four hundred locals came to hear him speak.

He was joined by the UK Ambassador, who told the gathering:

“I ask every farmer and every father to ensure that your sons make the right choice. That they don’t fight for the Taliban, but they enrol in the Afghan Police and Afghan Army. That they don’t grow poppy, but they grow wheat to provide food to the people of Afghanistan.”

The UK is supporting the Governor’s programme with £10 million as part of its commitment to restoring the legitimate agricultural base in Helmand province.

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