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1998 06 31 * STA # 1 : An Analysis of the Process of Expansion of Opium Poppy Cultivation to New Districts in Afghanistan

http://www.unodc.org/pakistan/en/report_1998-06-31_1.html

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An Analysis of the Process of Expansion of Opium Poppy Cultivation to New Districts in Afghanistan

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STRATEGIC STUDY #1 

Preliminary Report JUNE 1998


CONTENTS






The Strategic Studies Series

One of UNDCP's principal objectives is to strengthen international action against illicit drug production. In Afghanistan, its principal objective is to reduce and eventually eliminate existing and potential sources of opium cultivation. It is recognised that in order to achieve this there is a need to further the understanding of the diversity of conditions and priorities that different socio-economic and spatial groups take into account when making decisions about their involvement in opium cultivation.

The Strategic Study Series is one of the tools by which UNDCP intends to document the process of lesson learning within the ongoing Afghanistan Programme. Studies in this series will focus on issues that are considered to be of strategic importance to improving the design of current and future alternative development initiatives in Afghanistan. Information collection for these studies is undertaken by the UNDCP Drug Control Monitoring System (AFG/C27) in close coordination with the ongoing presence and project activities of UNDCP's Poppy Reduction project (AFG/C28). Recognising the inherent problems associated with undertaking research into the drugs issue in Afghanistan, emphasis is given to verifying findings through systematic information-gathering techniques and methodological pluralism. As such, the Studies will be undertaken in an iterative manner, seeking to consolidate preliminary findings with further fieldwork. It is envisaged that this approach will allow panel or longitudinal studies to be undertaken which assess both the changes in opium cultivation and lives and livelihoods amongst different socio-economic, gender and spatial groups over the lifetime of the Afghanistan programme.

These Strategic Studies will be an integral part of the regional study, "The Dynamics of the Illicit Opiate Industry in South West Asia" due to be published and disseminated in early 2001. The purpose of this regional study will be to: (i) contextualise the illicit drugs situation in South West Asia for the donor community, addressing issues of interest to their development agendas, including poverty, health, gender and the environment (ii) and for UNDCP to identify ?best practice' in the design and implementation of alternative development, law enforcement and demand reduction initiatives.

Strategic Studies will include:

  • An Analysis of the Process of Expansion of Opium Poppy Cultivation to New Districts in Afghanistan.
  • The Dynamics of Farmgate Opium Trade and the Coping Strategies of Opium Traders.
  • The Role of Opium as a Source of Informal Credit.
  • The Role of Opium as a Livelihood Strategy for Returnees.
  • Access to Labour: The dynamics of the labour market for opium poppy in Afghanistan.
  • The Role of Women in Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan and the Consequences Arising from its Replacement for Women's Economic and Social Standing.
  • ?The Balloon Effect': An Analysis of the Process of Relocation of Opium Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan.


Executive Summary

Experience has shown that alternative development has been closely associated with reductions in drug crop cultivation at the local level. Households have been found to abandon coca and opium cultivation despite their reported unassailable profitability. Moreover, off-farm income opportunities and alternative cropping systems have led to increases in income in both absolute terms and relative to drug crops. However, despite certain localised successes drug crop cultivation continues to increase, often in areas adjacent to project locations.

This Study seeks to explore the socio- economic processes that have facilitated the expansion of opium poppy cultivation into new areas of cultivation in Afghanistan. The fieldwork was conducted in the districts of Qargahayi and Mehterlam in Laghman and Azro district in Logar. In order to distinguish between generic and context specific issues in-depth interviews were conducted over a wide geographical area within these three districts. To broaden the analytical base of this study further household interviews will be conducted in other districts where opium poppy has been cultivated for the first time in 1998. Interviews will also be undertaken in new districts and provinces should new areas come under opium poppy cultivation in subsequent years.

Interviews focused on a number of key issues relating to the possible motivations and circumstances that influence households in their decision to begin opium poppy cultivation, including increasing vulnerability, scattered land holdings, land tenure arrangements, reverse conditionality, and the activities of traffickers and their intermediaries.

Although this document represents an initial phase of a Study that will be consolidated with further fieldwork in other locations during 1999 and 2000, preliminary findings would suggest that:

  • In its initial year of cultivation in both Laghman and Logar, opium poppy is often undertaken by owner-cultivators on an experimental basis. As such opium poppy cultivation tends to be restricted to a small number of households in any one location during its initial year of cultivation. These small plots of opium poppy provoke the interest of neighbouring households much like any agricultural demonstration plot, raising the threat of expansion in subsequent years.
  • The interdependent nature of labour markets and commercial trade between districts, combined with cross district ethnic and family links, has led to a high degree of exposure to opium cultivation in both Laghman and Logar. In particular a number of respondents had family members who worked as itinerant opium poppy harvesters in neighbouring districts during periods of agricultural underemployment.
  • The expansion of opium poppy new areas of cultivation would appear be facilitated by itinerant poppy harvesters. The prevalence of poppy in the districts of Nangarhar and the labour intensive nature of the poppy harvest would seem to have provided significant employment opportunities for migrant labourers from both within Nangarhar and neighbouring provinces. For those migrants who are willing to travel between climatic zones, opium poppy provides the opportunity of securing two months employment during its harvest. The interdependence of the labour market between these different climatic zones would suggest that any strategy aimed at reducing opium cultivation in one district would also need to address on and off-farm income opportunities for labourers from neighbouring districts. A failure to absorb the surplus in labour supply caused by a reduction in opium poppy cultivation may provoke itinerant harvesters to search for employment opportunities in neighbouring districts. Given the suitability of the environmental conditions in most of Afghanistan and the particular skills these migrants have to offer, relocation of opium poppy cultivation may be a possible response.
  • Respondents did not attribute an economic value to household labour in the assessment of the total costs of agricultural inputs. Providing alternative income earning opportunities for family members, including women, might increase the opportunity cost households associate with opium cultivation and thereby reduce its perceived profitability.
  • Traders do not appear to take a pro-active role in the expansion of opium cultivation. In the initial year of cultivation only one household was found to have been approached by traders either during the time of planting or at harvest. However, in subsequent years it was reported that traders offered advances and visited households at the farmgate in order to purchase opium. This may suggest that the farmgate trade in opium is not highly structured but a relatively free market that follows market signals rather than creates them.




1. Objective

This study seeks to further UNDCP's understanding of the structural and motivational factors that lie behind the expansion of drug crop production new areas of cultivation.

2. Introduction

In the first year of the UNDCP Annual Opium Poppy Survey in 1994, opium poppy cultivation was found in 55 districts in eight provinces in Afghanistan. By 1998 there were 74 districts in 15 provinces cultivating opium poppy. Currently, despite much informed guesswork the reasons behind this geographical expansion in opium poppy cultivation are, in reality, still unknown. Moreover, there has been no research regarding why expansion typically occurs in areas adjacent to core areas of cultivation (see page 15). This Study seeks to explore the factors that facilitate the process of expansion in the context of Afghanistan, including increasing vulnerability, scattered land holdings, land tenure arrangements, reverse conditionality, and the activities of traffickers and their intermediaries. It is anticipated that by furthering our understanding of the process by which households enter into drug crop cultivation it will be possible to better target alternative development initiatives in order to satisfy both conventional development and drug control objectives.

3. A Preliminary Report

At the outset it must be noted that this is a preliminary report that will be consolidated with further work during 1998, 1999 and 2000. During this initial year of the Afghanistan Programme the focus of the fieldwork for this Study is on new areas of cultivation. As such this preliminary report draws on a series of interviews with opium poppy farmers in the provinces of Logar and Laghman (see page 16 & 17). Prior 1998 there had been no reports of poppy cultivation in Logar and reports of only insignificant amounts restricted to Qarghayi district, Laghman province.

To explore the process of expansion household interviews were conducted in Qarghayi and Mehterlam in Laghman, and Azro district in Logar province (see Annex A: Terms of Reference). Unfortunately, security constraints meant it was not possible to interview opium poppy farmers in Alingar and Alisheng districts in Laghman Province where opium poppy cultivation has also been reported for the first time in 1998.

In total, 20 semi-structured interviews were undertaken with farmers in the districts of Azro, Qarghayi and Mehterlam between 16 and 20 April 1998. A series of interviews were also undertaken with key informants with an in-depth knowledge of both the respective districts and opium poppy cultivation in particular. These interviews were conducted during the monitoring of the UNDCP Annual Afghanistan Opium Poppy Survey. Respondents were selected in discussion with the surveyors responsible for the districts of Azro, Qarghayi and Mehterlam. Selection was on the basis of the duration of village involvement in opium poppy cultivation and the geographical spread of the villages.

In order to explore the process by which opium poppy is introduced and consolidated within a specific village or location, interviews were not only held with households that cultivated opium poppy in 1998 but those in Qarghayi district who had cultivated in previous years. In order to distinguish between generic and context specific issues in-depth interviews were conducted over a wide geographical area within the districts. It is anticipated that these issues will provide a framework for further fieldwork in other districts during subsequent stages of the Study. Currently the limited number of districts in which the fieldwork was conducted means that the findings of this particular report should be treated as preliminary and may not necessarily be extrapolated for other provinces or districts within Afghanistan.

Both individual and group interviews were undertaken depending on the circumstances in the field. Opportunities in the field allowed interviews to be conducted with owner cultivators and the itinerant poppy harvesters under their employment. Unfortunately, despite the high incidence of women collecting opium gum during the fieldwork period, the local authorities restrictions on the hiring of local female staff prevented any interviews being conducted with women.

4. Future Analysis

To broaden the analytical base of this study further household interviews will be conducted in other districts where opium poppy has been cultivated for the first time in 1998. If security conditions prevail these interviews will be undertaken in Sarobi in Kabul, Chak and Jaghatu in Wardak and Tagab in Kapisa.

Interviews will be undertaken in new districts and provinces should new areas come under opium poppy cultivation in subsequent years. Interviews will also be conducted in the districts of Balkh, Chemtal, and Char Bolak in Balkh province to explore the process of expansion in these predominantly Pashtoon areas, when security conditions allow.

To document the process of introduction and consolidation in Azro, Qarghayi and Mehterlam, follow-up interviews will be conducted in 1999 and 2000.

The infancy of the Afghanistan programme means that this Preliminary Report documents the process of the expansion of opium poppy cultivation into new areas of cultivation in the provinces of Logar and Laghman. Fieldwork for a later Strategic Study will focus on the possible links between those areas in which opium poppy cultivation has been reduced and those areas in which opium poppy cultivation has been newly introduced or its cultivation has increased further, the so called ?balloon effect'. This fieldwork will be conducted in UNDCP's target districts in 1999, drawing on the initial household interviews undertaken for the Socio- Economic Baseline Study for the Poppy Reduction Project, C28. By re-visiting a number of those respondents from socio-economic groups with insufficient land for subsistence, this Study will identify the coping strategies which marginal groups adopt in response to UNDCP's poppy reduction initiatives. If required tracer studies will be conducted to explore the structural and motivational factors that influenced households in their decision to relocate.1/

1/ This work will form the basis for Strategic Study 7 'The Balloon Effect': An Analysis of the Process of Relocation of Opium Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan.


5. The extent of opium poppy cultivation in Logar and Laghman

5.1 Logar Province
By mid April 1998 opium poppy had been found in 10 villages out of a total of 54 villages surveyed in Azro district. There was no evidence to suggest that these villages had cultivated opium poppy prior to 1998.2/

Eight of the ten villages that were found to be cultivating opium poppy in Azro were concentrated in the Tang area. Tang is a low-lying area of Azro district and as such is more suitable for opium poppy cultivation due its warmer climate (see page 16). Moreover, Tang is also only 2 hours walk from Hisarak in Nangarhar province, an opium poppy producing district with ethnic and commercial links to Azro.

Key informants suggest that opium poppy cultivation in Azro is currently restricted to small plots cultivated by one or two farmers on an experimental basis. The results from the UNDCP Annual Opium Poppy Survey for 1998 indicate the intensity of opium cultivation is variable, ranging from less than 1%, to 30 % of the total cultivable land in those villages cultivating opium poppy in 1998. However, on average only 3.5% of cultivable land was cultivated with opium in those villages where opium was being grown in 1998.

Table 1: Villages in Azro District, Logar Province Cultivating Opium Poppy in 1998

Village name Number of
households
Total land
(Jeribs)
Poppy cultivation
(Jeribs)
Poppy as a % of total
cultivated land
Akbarkhel 160 700 4.5 0.6
Bara kondai kholaw 6 18 5 27.7
Gata 10 8 1 12.5
Kharaba 10 30 3 10
Kuz Kondai Kholaw 8 25 5 20
Mujibkhel 3 8 1.5 19
Raghi 15 20 4 20
Sornow 8 10 2 20
Spando Kas 8 30 1 3.3
Tanri 10 10 3 30


5.2. Laghman Province
Opium poppy cultivation is not new to all the villages in Qarghayi District (see page 17). The 1996 UNDCP Annual Opium Poppy Survey revealed small scale cultivation amounting to less
than 5 jeribs.3/ In 1997 resource and security constraints meant that Qarghayi could not be surveyed. Given reports that opium poppy had increased considerably in 1998, Qarghayi was
included in the Survey in 1998.field

The initial results from the 1988 survey reveal that all 61 villages in Qarghayi cultivated opium poppy. On average 2.4% of cultivable land was dedicated to opium poppy in 1998. However, the intensity of opium poppy cultivation varied from less than 1% to almost 17% with those villages with the highest intensity concentrated in the south of the district bordering Nangarhar.

Indeed, towards the northern villages of Qarghayi, opium poppy is less evident. Interviews with farmers revealed that many had planted opium poppy for the first time this year. There were a significant number of examples of experimental planting in both Qarghayi and Mehterlam with opium poppy cultivated in a single line amidst a field of gandana and coriander, and sometimes potato.

In Mehterlam district 24 villages were found to be cultivating opium poppy. Key informants indicate that poppy cultivation is relatively insignificant in the majority of these villages with one or two households cultivating less than one jerib each. The results from the UNDCP Annual Opium Poppy Survey indicate that 69.5 jeribs of opium poppy were cultivated in Mehterlam this year, representing only 1.2% of the total cultivable land in those villages cultivating opium poppy. Village cultivation was found to range from one half of one jerib to 10 jeribs. The highest intensity of opium poppy cultivation was in Bazal where 15 % of total village cultivable land was dedicated to opium poppy.

Although opium poppy has been reported in the districts of Alingar and Alisheng in Laghman it was not possible to visit these two districts due to security constraints.

6. The links between core areas and new areas of opium poppy cultivation

Fieldwork would suggest that the interdependent nature of labour markets and commercial trade between districts, combined with cross district ethnic and family links, has led to a high degree
of exposure to opium cultivation in both Laghman and Logar.

According to respondents, population growth has fuelled a process of both permanent and temporary migration in Azro district. As such, some migrants from Azro have settled in Jalalabad and Pakistan on a permanent basis, leaving their lands in the custody of family members or tenants. Temporary migration has proven to be a viable strategy during times of seasonal under-employment in Azro. The proximity of the lower lying districts of Hisarak, Sherzad and Khogiani provide seasonal migrants with temporary employment opportunities during the spring harvest in April, whilst allowing them to return to their own land to harvest in May/June. Indeed, respondents indicated that geographic and tribal links had made Hisarak a particularly popular destination for Ahmadzai Pashtoons of Azro district in search of seasonal employment amongst their tribal affiliates.

The prevalence of opium poppy in Hisarak, Sherzad and Khogiani and the labour intensive nature of the poppy harvest would seem to have provided significant employment opportunities for migrant labourers from Azro and other districts. However, for those migrants who were willing travel further afield the climatic variations between (i) Shinwar, (ii) Sukhurud and Khogiani (iii) Sherzad and (iv) Hisarak offer the opportunity of securing two months employment harvesting opium poppy. Respondents in Azro indicated that family members had spent a number of years harvesting opium poppy in the neighbouring districts in Nangarhar. It was suggested that through this seasonal work family members had acquired the necessary expertise in opium poppy cultivation, later prompting opium cultivation amongst some households in Azro.

The importance of prior contact with core areas of opium poppy cultivation was reiterated in interviews in both Mehterlam and Qarghayi. Prior experience of harvesting opium poppy in Khogiani and Shinwar was also prevalent amongst a number of the new opium cultivators interviewed in Laghman. Those that had not worked themselves on poppy cultivation indicated that they had contact to Shinwar through family connections.�

It was noticeable that all respondents cultivating opium in Laghman and Logar for the first time in 1998 were owner cultivators.

2/ The UNOPS funded Baseline Survey for Azro conducted by ACBAR in December 1997 estimated that 29 jeribs of opium poppy was cultivated in the district in the 1997-98 growing season.

3/ One jerib is equivalent to one-fifth of one hectare.



7. The role of itinerant poppy harvesters in expansion

7.1 The skilled nature of harvesting
fig2study19806 All the farmers who had elected to grow opium poppy for the first time in 1998 and who had not worked in other core opium producing areas during previous harvest periods, indicated that they were reliant on hired labour, or experienced family members and personal contacts, for lancing and collection.

Many of these respondents indicated complete ignorance about when lancing and collection should be undertaken, resulting in disagreements between respondents during group interviews. Moreover, the relatively skilled nature of harvesting opium poppy prompted a number of experienced itinerant harvesters from Khogiani to ridicule owner cultivators in Qarghayi for their lack of knowledge of lancing.

Respondents indicated that harvesting requires a degree of experience to optimise the yield of the opium poppy. Identifying capsules ready for lancing requires squeezing each capsule between thumb and forefinger.4/ To the inexperienced the difference between a ripe and an unripe capsule would appear negligible. Lancing too early is thought to significantly affect the final yield.

The incision of the lancing is also considered integral to the final yield. If the incision is too deep the skin of the capsule will be cut and the latex will oxidise in the capsule; too shallow and the flow of the latex will be constrained. The depth of the incision is also dependent on the number of lancings, with the first two lancings requiring a shallower incision than those that follow. To ensure that each lancing is of the right depth, experienced harvesters use two different lancing instruments (neshtars), the first for the first two lancings, the second, with longer blades, for any lancings that follow.

The working conditions are considered arduous by the harvesters. Long hours in the strong sun and the odour of the opium do not make the task pleasant. Lancing occurs in the afternoon from 2pm until dusk. Collecting is undertaken in the morning from sunrise until 10am. Whilst collection of the gum is a task that both men and women undertake, lancing is exclusively the task of men.

7.2 The restricted role of women
In Behsud, Bati Kot, Rodat and Shinwar it was possible to see women actively involved in collecting opium gum. However, due to sensitivities associated with discussing the economic and social responsibilities of women in rural Afghanistan, and current restrictions on employing female local staff, it was not possible to clarify from either the men or the women working in the fields why women were not engaged in lancing. Key informants indicated that many farmers considered the fumes omitted during lancing as too intoxicating for women.fig3study19806

However, a more practical explanation may relate to the productive and reproductive roles of women during the time at which lancing commonly takes place, including the collection of fodder for livestock, food preparation and the gathering of firewood. It is recognised that further work will need be conducted on the ?Role of women in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan and the consequences arising from its replacement for women's economic and social standing', once conditions permit.5/

7.3. Limited on and off-farm income opportunities
The itinerant poppy harvesters interviewed argued that insufficient income earning opportunities had prompted them to search for work in the poppy fields. All those interviewed were either landless or had insufficient land to satisfy their subsistence. It was argued that the high cost of food items, clothing and medicines in Afghanistan, growing household sizes and a lack of on-farm and off-farm income earning opportunities had led to increasing expenditures and dwindling incomes.

Respondents indicated that as a consequence of this cycle they had accumulated increasing levels of household debt. The opium poppy harvest provided them with the opportunity to earn upto two months income if they were willing to travel between regions. However, for some labourers, particularly the elderly and women this would not seem to be an option. Interviews revealed that these groups seem to have less mobility, tending to remain in their local area and harvesting opium poppy in the same village each year. Key informants have suggested that the more mobile poppy harvesters are typically young men with few on-farm or off-farm income earning opportunities.

In Qarghayi and Mehterlam itinerant harvesters were typically from Chaparhar, Surkh Rod and Khogiani. Whilst in Azro farmers indicated that they had contacts in Hisarak, Surkh Rod and Khogiani that would assist them in harvesting their crop.

fig4study198067.4. Limiting the demands on labour
Given the labour intensive nature of opium cultivation, households were found to have adopted a number of strategies to spread the demands on family and hired labour. Indeed, respondents revealed that those households with larger areas of land dedicated to opium poppy cultivated two different varieties of opium poppy, spingule (white flower) and surgule (pink flower). The difference in the maturation rates of these varieties allowed households a 20 day period in which to harvest their Spingule crop before beginning the harvest of their surgule. Respondents indicated that this would be enough time for one person to harvest approximately two thirds of a jerib of opium poppy.

�Spreading the demand for labourwould appear be a strategy aimed at minimising the hired labour costs incurred by households. However, at the time of the fieldwork respondents indicated that the daily wage for poppy harvesters had not yet been set. A number of respondents suggested that the daily wage would not be determined until the lower lying areas of opium poppy cultivation had completed their harvest. It was claimed that this would form the basis for negotiations in other areas. As such itinerant harvesters appeared to be working without an agreed rate of pay which would seem to considerably weaken their bargaining position. Respondents indicated that it was expected that the agreed rate would be 50,000 Afghanis (Afs) per day for men, although some itinerant harvesters from Khogiani indicated that they expected 100,000 Afs per day.6/ It is noticeable that despite women's role being restricted to collection and thereby only half a days work, the daily rate of pay does not reflect their relative input at only 15,000-20,000 Afs.fig5study19806

Limiting the demands on family labour is also important given the need for supervision of the hired labour force. Cases of theft of opium gum were reported by respondents. Examples were given of itinerant harvesters concealing opium gum in poppy leaves during the collection process. To counteract theft, family members were tasked with the close supervision of wage labourers, including the collection of the gum from each labourer's collection spatula, known as a rambay. The main store of the opium gum, secreted in the shade of the poppy plants, was exclusively the domain of family members.

fig6study19806However, it is worth recognising that the labour costs incurred during opium poppy cultivation may provide externalities for future agricultural activities. One respondent who had planted six jeribs of opium poppy in 1997 had doubled his cultivation in 1998. He suggested that the primary reason for this increase in the amount of land dedicated to opium was the prevalence of weeds on this land. This has been a common claim in other areas, indicating that the labour intensive nature of poppy cultivation with its thinning requirements provides an opportunity to clean the land of weeds at the same time.

�Moreover, key informants suggest that the unsuitability of weeding land when wheat is grown upon it due to the density of its cultivation, means that weeding is not undertaken on an annual basis. Within this context the cultivation of opium poppy is perhaps an investment in the future productivity of the land and its cultivation should not be considered simply a function of its profitability on an annual basis but the profitability of the land over a longer period of crop rotation.7/

7.5. Perceptions of profit
None of the respondents who had planted opium poppy in 1997 or 1998 indicated a desire to stop opium cultivation. Most argued that they would continue its cultivation as long as it was ?profitable'. In discussions regarding the calculation of profit, respondents indicated that they did not include household labour in the assessment of total costs. Seed, fertiliser, rented farmpower and hired labour were included but no cost was attributed to family labour. Providing alternative income earning opportunities for family members, including women, might increase the opportunity cost households associate with opium cultivation and thereby reduce its perceived profitability.

7.6. The threat of expansion within the area
Most importantly first time growers in all three districts indicated that neighbouring households were expressing a particular interest in the progress of their opium crop. It was also noted by respondents that their neighbours were in a lower socio-economic position than themselves due to fewer remittances from temporary or permanent migrants within the family. It was suggested by respondents that the prevalence of under-employed members within the neighbouring households may prompt more intensive opium poppy cultivation during the next sowing season.

4/ Itinerant harvesters in Qarghayi indicated that they expected a yield of approximately 22 Kg per jerib this year compared with 14 Kg per jerib in 1997 due to the increased size of the opium capsules.

5/ This Study will represent Strategic Study 6 in the series.

6/ At the time of fieldwork there were approximately 33,000 Afghanis to one US Dollar in the eastern region.

7/ Strategic Study 5: Access Labour: The Dynamics of the labour market for opium poppy in Afghanistan will undertake more in-depth analysis of the issues discussed in this section during the next opium poppy season.





8. The role of traders in expansion

In the villages where opium poppy was being cultivated for the first year only one respondent indicated that he had been approached by traders to grow opium poppy. Opium seeds had been provided by the trader and the farmer was informed that the trader would return to purchase the final crop. However, the owner of the land had also worked as a labourer in Khogiani during the previous year's opium poppy harvest and had developed links with itinerant harvesters that would assist during the coming harvest.

In those villages where opium had been produced for the first time in 1997, traders had approached them in 1998 to offer an advance. Traders had not approached them in the previous years. These villages were mainly in the southern areas of Qarghayi district. One respondent had taken an advance to pay for the labour he required to thin and weed his opium poppy. The other two respondents had declined the advance due to the low price for opium being offered.

Upon inquiring where the final opium would be sold all respondents expressed the view that traders would visit their area once they had heard opium was being produced there. All the respondents indicated that they would sell the opium themselves to dealers in core producing areas should traders not appear. In Azro farmers suggested they would travel to Hisarak or Jalalabad to sell their opium. In Qarghayi and Mehterlam, Jalalabad and Ghani Khel were given as possible locations for selling their opium.

9. The role of reverse conditionality in expansion

None of the respondents interviewed in Logar or Laghman reported having any knowledge of UNDCP's alternative development activities in Shinwar. This may indicate that new opium poppy cultivation in Logar and Laghman is not a function of farmers desire to attract development assistance from UNDCP or other development donors.

10. The impact of the ban on new areas of opium poppy cultivation

None of the farmers interviewed in Logar or Laghman indicated that they had any knowledge of a ban on new areas of opium poppy cultivation. Some respondents in Laghman suggested that the district administrator, the woliswol, had given them sanction to cultivate opium poppy in 1997 but had not made any comment in 1998. The woliswol's silence was subsequently interpreted as implicit consent by the farmers to cultivate in 1998. Indeed, from the woliswol's office in Qarghayi it was possible to see poppy on three sides, the furthest field being a distance of only 400 meters.

Many respondents questioned the validity of a ban on opium poppy cultivation in all those districts that had not produced poppy in previous years, suggesting that such an approach lacked credibility given the higher levels of production in other districts.

11. Preliminary Findings

  • In its initial year of cultivation in both Laghman and Logar, opium poppy would appear to be undertaken by owner-cultivators. Key informants and respondents indicated that opium poppy is often cultivated on an experimental basis by one or two households in a village. In Laghman there is significant evidence of households intercropping poppy during its initial year of cultivation. It is possible that this strategy is adopted to test the market for opium and the suitability of soils and climate, whilst minimising the risks associated with crop and market failure. These small plots of opium would seem to provoke the interest of neighbouring households much like any agricultural demonstration plot, raising the threat of expansion in subsequent years.
  • Fieldwork would suggest that the interdependent nature of labour markets and commercial trade between districts, combined with cross district ethnic and family links, has led to a high degree of exposure opium cultivation in both Laghman and Logar. In particular a number of respondents had family members who worked as itinerant opium poppy harvesters in neighbouring districts during periods of agricultural underemployment.
  • The expansion of opium poppy to new areas of cultivation would appear to be facilitated by itinerant poppy harvesters. Demographic pressures and the absence of off-farm income opportunities have led to growing seasonal agricultural underemployment. The prevalence of poppy in the districts of Nangarhar and the labour intensive nature of the poppy harvest would seem to have provided significant employment opportunities for migrant labourers from both within Nangarhar and neighbouring provinces. For those migrants who are willing to travel between climatic zones there is the opportunity of securing two months employment harvesting opium poppy. The interdependence of the labour market between these different climatic zones would suggest that any strategy aimed at reducing opium cultivation in one district would also need to address on and off-farm income opportunities for labourers from neighbouring districts. A failure to absorb the surplus in labour supply caused by a reduction in opium poppy cultivation may provoke itinerant harvesters to search for employment opportunities in neighbouring districts. Given the suitability of the environmental conditions in most of Afghanistan and the particular skills these migrants have to offer, relocation of opium poppy cultivation may be a possible response.
  • Respondents did not attribute an economic value to household labour in the assessment of the total costs of agricultural inputs. Providing alternative income earning opportunities for family members, including women, might increase the opportunity cost households associate with opium cultivation and thereby reduce its perceived profitability.
  • Initial fieldwork would suggest that traders do not appear to take a pro-active role in the expansion of opium cultivation. In the initial year of cultivation only one household was found to have been approached by traders either during the time of planting or at harvest. In subsequent years it was reported that traders have offered advances and visited households at the farmgate in order to purchase opium. This may suggest that the farmgate trade in opium is not highly structured but a relatively free market that follows market signals rather than creates them.
  • None of the respondents indicated that they were aware of a ban on opium poppy cultivation in new areas. If true greater efforts will need be made promote the ban in all areas currently under Taliban control using a variety of media, including electronic and print and interpersonal communications.




ANNEX A: TERMS OF REFERENCE


Strategic Study1: An Analysis of the Process of Expansion of Opium Poppy Cultivation to New Districts in Afghanistan

Objective: This study seeks to further UNDCP's understanding of the structural and motivational factors that lie behind the expansion of drug crop production to new areas of cultivation.

Summary: This study will seek to interview poppy cultivators in districts where poppy has been recently introduced. Attempts will be made to contact the farmers cultivating poppy in these areas in an effort to further UNDCP's understanding of the process of expansion. Semi-structured interviews will focus on the role of tenancy arrangements, ethnic or kinship ties, and push-pull factors in determining expansion. This work will be undertaken in subsequent years should new areas come under poppy cultivation.

Phase I: Interview poppy cultivators in 1998 in areas where poppy has not been produced in previous years

  • Initial Target Districts for 1998: Azro in Logar and Qarghayi and Meliterlarn in Laghman province.
  • Subsequent Target Districts for 1998: Sarobi in Kabul and Tagab in Kapisa.

Phase II: Interviews will be undertaken in new districts and provinces should new areas come under opium poppy cultivation in� subsequent years.

Methodology: Due to the sensitive nature of the subject and the locations in which the interviews are taking place emphasis should be on informal interviews. A questionnaire should not be used. Instead the interviewer should focus on a number of key issues discussed in a conversational manner. Notes should not be taken during the interview but should be written up once the interview has finished and the interviewer has departed.

Emphasis should be given to conducting in-depth interviews over a wide geographical area to assist in identifying generic issues that could be explored in other districts during subsequent stages of the study. Priority should be given to interviewing first time cultivators of opium poppy. These should be identified in consultation with key informants, including the surveyor for the district. However, consideration should also be given to interviewing a smaller sample of households who have cultivated opium poppy for two to three years in order to analyse the process of expansion and consolidation of opium poppy in a particular village or location.


KEY ISSUES TO BE DISCUSSED

Identify whether: (A) landowner; or (B) sharecroppper?

If Landowner

(i) What crops have they produced in previous years?
(ii) If produced poppy, in which year/s?
(iii) Why have they opted to produce poppy this year?
ie. What is different about this year from last year?
Agricultural conditions changed?- ie. access to water? Fragmentation of land?
Relative prices of crops? - ie Wheat v Poppy
Need for credit? What for?
Approached by individuals to grow poppy? - ie Traders or sharecroppers?
(iv) Where did they learn about poppy cultivation?
(v) Poppy requires a lot of labour, what area does the labour they require for harvesting come
from? Hired? Family?
(vi) Given that this area is a new poppy growing area where will they sell their opium?
(vii) Do they intend to grow poppy next year? What are the reasons for their answer?
(viii) What do they include when calculating the profitability of opium poppy?
(ix) Have they heard that the Taliban have imposed a ban on new areas of cultivation?
(x) Have they heard about UNDCP's activities in other areas of Afghanistan?


If sharecropper

(i) What is their province and district of origin?
(ii) What was the last district in which they sharecropped/rented land?
(iii) What prompted their relocation here?
(iv) What crops did they produce in previous area?
(v) If they produced poppy in previous area, for how many years?
(vi) Where did they learn about poppy cultivation?
(vii) Any family/ethnic links between area where previously sharecropped and current area?
(viii) Poppy requires a lot of labour, what area does the labour they require for harvesting come from? Hired? Family?
(ix) Given that this area is a new poppy growing area where will they sell their opium?
(x) Will they stay in the area or return to previous area?
(xi) Do they intend to grow poppy next year? What are the reasons for answer?
(xii) What do they include when calculating the profitability of opium poppy?
(xiii) Have they heard that the Taliban have imposed a ban on new areas of cultivation?
(xiv) Have they heard about UNDCP's activities in other areas of Afghanistan?


MAPS

study19806map1_sm

Map showing districts cultivating opium poppy in Afghanistan in 1998(Click on picture to enlarge)
Map of Azro and surrounding districts (Click on picture to enlarge) study19806map3_sm
study19806map2_sm Map showing new area of opium poppy cultivation in the eastern region in 1998 (Click on picture to enlarge)
Map of Qarghayi and Mehterlam and surrounding districts (Click on picture to enlarge) study19806map4_sm