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Opium cultivation spreads in Myanmar's uncontrolled areas

  • Published at 04:46 pm March 3rd, 2017
  • Last updated at 06:24 pm March 3rd, 2017
Opium cultivation spreads in Myanmar's uncontrolled areas

Opium cultivation in Myanmar's Shan state is concentrated especially in areas outside government control and subject to violent conflict between the army and ethnic minority guerrillas, the United Nations reported on Friday.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) stated in a new report that a stable government and good safety regulations have a "significant impact" on the decision to grow poppy.

The analysis, conducted on 591 villages in 39 municipalities, found that 88% of the villages that are not under government control grow opium, compared to 76% in the government-controlled areas. The study also found a greater perception of insecurity in the opium-producing villages (11%) than in those not producing (2%).

UNODC says the peace dialogue in Shan state could improve governance and security, which would make an impact on communities and reduce their need to engage in the opium-growing industry.

"The connection of conflict and poppy cultivation means that interventions will need to take into account mitigation or resolution," UNODC regional director Jeremy Douglas said in a statement.

"This may mean that strategies and programmes to help households and communities move away from the opium economy may also need to address some causes and consequences of conflict," added Douglas.

According to the study, one in ten households in the researched villages is directly involved in opium cultivation, an industry they depend on to earn the money they need to buy food and guarantee basic services.

The study also pointed out that the numbers of opium producers among land-owning farmers have declined.

According to UNODC's 2015 report, there were 55,000 hectares of opium cultivation in Myanmar, placing the country as the world's second largest producer behind Afghanistan.

About 91% of the production was concentrated in the eastern state of Shan, a region responsible for most of the 823 million tonnes of opium cultivated in the Golden Triangle, the border area between Myanmar, Laos and Thailand.

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