The export value of the crop to Afghanistan is around $2.8 billion, approximately 60% of the gross domestic product of the country. For individual growers it brings high, quick rewards: opium yields a gross income of about $2,000 per acre ($800 per hectare) – about twelve times as much as the income from wheat growing. This and the highly dispersed pattern of production suggest that the industry could only be halted by the provision of profitable alternative work (backed perhaps by subsidies) to small farmers. - Paul Rogers
$2.8 billion? And how much does that translate into in terms of Western drug addiction, with its train of burglaries, crime, devastated lives, illness, neglected children, medical, police and legal costs? Not to mention the costs of terrorism, since the terrorists benefit from drug profits.
It would be a simple matter for the industrialised nations to form a collective and but up the opium crop from the farmers, outbidding the warlords. At 12 times the cost of Afghani wheat, the cost is negligible. Once the collective of nations had bought it, they could then burn it on the spot. After a few years, they could gradually enable the transition of the farmers to legitimate crops. Purchase would give us control of the situation.
When I put this to the US embassy in London a few years ago, the only objection they could come up with was that some of it might leak back onto the black market through corruption. The perfectionist objection. So? At least we control most of the crop.
Are there any other objections to dealing in this reasonable and non-violent way with the horrendous opium problem?