Opium cultivation in golden triangle drops 29 percent in 2006: UNODC

The opium cultivation in the Golden Triangle region, where Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet, fell 29 percent in 2006, bringing the total decline in the region since 1998 to 85 percent, said the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) Friday.

The UNODC''s 2006 Golden Triangle opium poppy cultivation survey report, issued here at a press briefing, said that the golden triangle's share of the world opium poppy cultivation has dropped from 66 percent in 1998 to only 12 percent in 2006 with Laos and Thailand almost being opium-free.

"If the current trend continues, there will soon be only one opium-producing country left in the world -- Afghanistan," the UNODC chief said in the report.

The golden triangle region's opium poppy cultivated area was at 24,160 hectares in 2006, down from 34,720 hectares in 2005 and 157, 900 hectares in 1998, the survey report disclosed.

The golden triangle now produces only about 5 percent of the world's opium, declining from by 33 percent in 1998, the report added.

With regard to Myanmar, the survey report also said that the country's opium poppy cultivation fell 34 percent to 21,500 hectares in 2006, representing a dramatic 83 percent fall from 130, 300 hectares in 1998 and remaining as the world's second largest opium poppy grower after Afghanistan.

Officials of the UNODC Yangon Office called on the international community to continue providing assistance to the Golden Triangle countries to prevent farmers who have stopped growing opium poppy from turning their back on opium.

At the briefing, Police Colonel Kham Awng, Joint Secretary of the Myanmar Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control (CCDAC), also urged the world community to continue extending support and assistance for the elimination of drug without any political consideration.

He said the Myanmar government has launched an ambitious 15- year plan since 1999 to totally eradicate drug in the country by 2014.

He expressed Myanmar's commitment to maintain the present momentum relying on its own resources, saying that if international assistance is forthcoming, the country is confident that it can achieve the objectives of an opium-free country in a much shorter period.

Source: Xinhua

People's Daily Online --- http://english.people.com.cn/