NL soldiers will not destroy opium crops

Dutch soldiers serving in Afghanistan will not take part in the destruction of opium crops because the action will not help build public support for reconstruction efforts, aid minister Agnes van Ardenne said on Monday evening.

The Afghan authorities want to destroy the opium crop because it is an important source of income for the Taliban. But opium is often the only source of income for farmers, Van Ardenne said.
The Afghan government should offer farmers an alternative source of income, Van Ardenne told TV programme Nova. Involving Dutch troops in counteracting poppy production would damage the trust Dutch soldiers have built up in the region, said the minister who has just returned from a visit to Afghanistan.
Opium production in Afghanistan rose 49 percent last year to 6,700 tons, enough to supply 90 percent of the world’s heroin, the International Herald Tribune reported.

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