How Britain’s mistakes in Helmand fuelled record opium crops

Britain’s multi-million pound scheme to cut opium cultivation while troops fought in Helmand only paved the way for a boom in drug production and record harvests, according to new research.

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The UK’s four-year programme to encourage farmers to grow wheat instead of opium had little direct effect on the drug crop at the time. But it led to a shift in farming patterns which has since seen new fields spring up in desert areas and record levels of opium growth.

Britain’s efforts also fed local corruption and fomented resentment against the local authorities it was trying to build, according to the research by a leading expert on Afghanistan’s drug production.

The project called the Helmand food zone…

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