Afghanistan is the world’s leading supplier for illegal opiates, a trade which provides a considerable source of funding for insurgents and terrorists.  The illicit opiate economy impacts society, threatens regional stability, undermines legitimate economic development, impedes governance, and is fueling a growing public health crisis (particularly among women and children) in Afghanistan and neighboring countries. The lead responsibility for security and oversight of counternarcotics efforts has transitioned to the Afghan government.  As U.S. combat forces draw down, the expectation is that the drug problem will increase in Afghanistan and throughout the region.

The U.S. Strategy for Counternarcotics in Afghanistan is not focused simply on stemming the flow of illegal drugs, but centers on building credible Afghan government institutions capable of breaking the narcotics-insurgency nexus, achieving sustainable reductions in opium/heroin production and subsequent trafficking, and responding to the public health crises arising from burgeoning opiate addiction.  U.S. counternarcotics goals are aligned with the Afghan Government’s counternarcotics priorities as outlined in Afghanistan’s National Drug Control Strategy and are defined in the U.S. Counternarcotics Strategy for Afghanistan, which was revised in 2012 to address the security transition. U.S. counternarcotics efforts are integrated with the Administration’s broader stability and security goals for Afghanistan and the region and are undertaken as part of a continuum of law enforcement, governance, and development activities that are designed to reinforce the Afghanistan’s ability to reduce the threat from the illegal drug economy.

Opium poppy cultivation increased in 2012.  Noting differing methodologies, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) estimated 154,000 hectares of poppy cultivation while USG estimated over 180,000 ha.  A combination of factors, including high farm gate prices, insecurity, and Taliban influence may have led to higher cultivation.  Due to poor weather conditions and disease, the poppy bulbs yielded significantly less opium gum in 2012.  The UNODC and USG estimate 3,700 metric tons and 4,300 mt, respectively, of potential opium production. 

Further information on cultivation and opium production estimates can be found in the UNODC’s Afghanistan Opium Survey for 2012.

Further information on counternarcotics programs in Afghanistan can be found in the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), an annual report by the Department of State to Congress prepared in accordance with the Foreign Assistance Act. It describes the efforts of key countries to attack all aspects of the international drug trade. Volume I covers drug and chemical control activities. Volume II covers money laundering and financial crimes.