Andrees Latif  /  Reuters
A local in Qalat, Afghanistan, unloads some of 5,400 kilograms of hashish and opium that was later burned outside the city about 100 miles northeast of Kandahar on Monday.
updated 4/5/2004 5:37:00 PM ET 2004-04-05T21:37:00

Hundreds of farmers demonstrated in eastern Afghanistan on Monday against a government plan to destroy fields of opium poppies in an effort to crack down on rampant drug production, police said.

About 300 farmers gathered peacefully near the town of Kama in Nangarhar province, a poppy-growing region about 90 miles east of Kabul, said Ajab Shah, a senior provincial police official.

The government plan calls for the destruction of 75 percent of the opium crop in Nangarhar and two other key opium-producing provinces. Opium is used to make heroin.

The eradication is intended to destroy up to 30 percent of Afghanistan’s crop before it can be harvested.

Nangarhar Gov. Din Mohammed said about 200 people traveled Sunday from Kama to the provincial capital, Jalalabad, to ask that the program be scaled back.

The provincial government had planned to destroy all the opium in the province, “but we received orders from the central government to destroy 75 percent in five districts,” he said, adding that eradication will begin soon.

Last year, Afghanistan produced about three-quarters of the world’s opium. Authorities suspect the lucrative trade benefits both the commanders of the irregular militias controlling much of the country and the anti-government rebels, including the ousted Taliban.

President Hamid Karzai’s government has vowed to launch a crackdown on drug production, and foreign donors, including the United States and Britain, are spending millions of dollars training new Afghan security forces to destroy opium fields.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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