Afghanistan remains the world's largest producer of opium poppy and a major source of heroin. In an effort to eradicate the deadly scourge of illicit drug cultivation and trafficking, the United States has allocated $268 million for Joint Afghan Justice and Counternarcotics Programs.
The funds will be used to advance two major strategic objectives in Afghanistan. The first is better governance through the improved administration of justice and enhanced rule of law. The second is increased peace and security through curtailment of the narcotics trade and the resulting revenues that fund terrorist and criminal activities.
U.S. funds will complement Afghan government funding and will be used to support and expand current collaborative programs.
Some of these programs are in Helmand Province, which remains the largest grower of opium poppy in Afghanistan. The Provincial Government's innovative Food Zone program there provides farmers with wheat seed and fertilizer in exchange for a pledge not to grow poppy. Coupled with credible law enforcement, this has reduced Helmand's poppy cultivation by a third, to 69,883 hectares in 2009 and even further to 65,043 hectares in 2010.
The U.S.-funded Governor Led Eradication program, or GLE, is administered by the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and has demonstrated progress in Helmand with 2,111 hectares eradicated by the end of May 2011. To date during 2011, a total of 3,827 hectares of GLE has been verified as being eradicated in seventeen provinces throughout the country, an increase of more 45 percent in eradication over the same time last year.
The State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs will continue to work with the Government of Afghanistan and the international community to help reform the Afghan criminal justice system, strengthen law enforcement capabilities, achieve sustainable reductions in narcotics production and trafficking. These programs are examples of the ongoing commitment by the U.S. to partner with the Afghan people and their elected representatives to improve people's lives across Afghanistan.