The links between the Afghans, state-building and the opium poppy economy need to be analyzed beyond convenient fear mongering causalities. For this a determination has to be made whether the drug-funded non-state actors pose a greater danger to the country and the region than the ineffectual attempts at state-building that contribute to the strengthening of the status quo and power structures based on exploitative control of resources. In a region marked by weak governance, abundant natural resources, strong ethnic identities and armed non-state actors, the fall of Afghanistan would be disastrous. Author.
The poppy problem of Afghanistan poses serious challenges. With its estimated $4 billion illicit export value, opium represents around one third of Afghanistan’s illicit and licit GDP. Not only does the country provide 92 percent of the world’s heroin supply, it also processes most of it inside the country – a new and rapidly acquired capability (only two years ago, the country exported raw opium).According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates, one seventh of Afghan population is involved in opium production. This represents a ‘social revolution’ with a substantial portion of rural population involved in opium production for the global market. Furthermore, profits from the drugs trade not only finance the Taliban-led insurgency but are also used to corrupt the power structure.
The current policy and rhetoric by UNODC and US has correlated counter insurgency with counter-narcotics and delinked poverty with opium production. While the status of Afghanistan as the sole supplier of heroin is an indictment of counter-narcotics policies in themselves, the proposition of placing counter-narcotics within counter-insurgency is not only short-sighted but also faulty. Such policies will create further instability in a region characterized by abundant natural resources, weak governance, armed groups and geopolitical interests. It will also target the weakest link in the chain i.e., the impoverished war ravaged Afghans who are vectors of change in processes of state building and governance of the country.
This study attempts to explore links between opium poppy economy, counter-narcotics policies and state building in Afghanistan outside the purview of theoretical debates on narcotics, state fragility, conflict and armed groups. Common to these theories is the assumption that state, be it fragile or weakened, does exist. In the case of Afghanistan, the foreign assisted Kabul government’s control does not exceed beyond 30 percent of the country. In absence of the state, the people of the country are integral to the dynamics of state building and development.
This paper proceeds within the parameters of this calculus and explores the linkages between opium poppy economy, policy and rhetoric of ongoing counter-narcotics policies, state building and governance in Afghanistan. It begins by providing an overview of the opium poppy economy with farmers as the focal point while the second section analyzes the current policy and rhetoric of counter-narcotics. The subsequent section highlights the challenge the interplay of the two aspects has created for policy makers and lays down the argument. The final section presents the concluding remarks that aim to generate questions rather than provide definitive answers.
The Afghan economy is dominated by agriculture (32 % of estimated total GDP in 2003), mainly cereal crops (27%), and by the opium economy (an estimated 35% of GDP). Afghanistan is not only an agrarian country, it is also one marked by a rural economy mostly preoccupied with food security and ensuring basic conditions for physical and social reproduction, rather than with investment and profit making. The agricultural production systems of Afghanistan are dependent on fragile systems of water management and care for the soil, whose productivity is generally low.
The opium economy operates in a high risk environment, providing access to welfare and security to the majority of the rural population in conditions of acute risk and insecurity. It is a major source of investment in durable goods, housing, and less frequently, working capital, signifying the multiplier effect of the opium economy. It is linked with the non-drug economy in many ways. Rural credit and access to land and water has become strongly linked to poppy production, as prices of factors of production are linked to opium prices. Research on rise of opium cultivation cites rural poverty and debt, absence of secure alternative sources of income, and attractiveness of opium (durable, easy to transport commodity commanding a high price with a guaranteed market outlet) as major factors.
The actors in opium production fall in three categories:
Resource rich farmers who have access to land, labour, water and working capital and cultivate opium themselves as part of a diversified pattern that also includes food crops and other cash crops. Many of these farmers will also rent out or sharecrop a part of their land, with rents denominated in opium. The availability of working capital allows landowners to make advances on favorable terms, to purchase the crop in advance, and to hold stocks of opium well beyond harvest, when prices rise.
Resource poor farmers who do not have access to sufficient land for their livelihood and must either work as labourers or enter sharecropping arrangements. Given the high profitability of opium, sharecropping arrangements in opium-producing areas normally require opium cultivation. Opium poppy cultivation has thus become the principal means of access to livelihoods. A backlog of persistent debt locks them in the opium economy.
Labourers form an important part of the opium economy. Poppy is a labour-intensive crop (350 persons/ha), particularly compared to the staple crop, wheat (about 40 persons/ha). Large numbers of Afghans move seasonally, following the poppy harvest. These itinerant poppy harvesters are driven by high cost of food items, clothing, medicines, growing household sizes and lack of insufficient income earning opportunities. As a consequence of this cycle, they have a greater tendency to accumulate increasing levels of household debt and poppy harvest provides them with the opportunity to earn up to two months income if they are willing to travel between regions. More importantly, these itinerant poppy harvesters facilitate expansion of opium poppy to new areas of cultivation thereby tending to create a ‘balloon effect.’
This categorization while not an exhaustive study of the socio- economic context, formal and informal political structures and governance on ground, manages to outline the motivations behind poppy cultivation. For many rural households, opium cultivation represents the means by which they can achieve welfare under conditions of pervasive risk and insecurity.
The role opium poppy plays in increasing access to much needed credit, and subsequently in managing the debts that farmers incur further increases economic dependency on the crop. Those with seasonal and accumulated debts see little option but to continue to cultivate opium poppy even though it does not offer them a viable and sustainable strategy for debt repayment. Research on credit in Afghanistan portrays a consistent picture in which a significant proportion of the rural population rely on credit to meet their basic needs. The accumulated debts are incurred due to taking loans for basic commodities such as food, clothes, investment in agricultural production, marriage, hiring of labour, medical expenditure and funeral costs.
The most common form of loans in opium poppy growing areas is the system known as salaam, an advance payment on a fixed amount of agricultural production. Whilst salaam sometimes provides advance payments on other agricultural products, such as wheat or black cumin, opium is the crop that is favoured by lenders. Although the majority of households that cultivate opium poppy in Afghanistan utilise the salaam system to some extent, the resource-poor typically sell their entire crop prior to the harvest (some of them up to two years) in return for an advance payment. Traditionally the price paid as an advance is half the current market price of opium on the day that the agreement is reached. The returns on opium vary considerably in different socio-economic groups. Through inequitable land tenure arrangements such as sharecropping, those who own land receive between half to two-thirds of the final opium crop produced. However, those with surplus financial assets can typically purchase the opium crop for half the harvest price through the provision of salaam. By using these traditional systems, those that have both land and capital (which tends to be the way in Afghanistan) can succeed in absorbing the bulk of profit to be generated from cultivation. This leaves those that do the lion’s share of the work, the resource-poor, with as little as a tenth of the net returns of their wealthier neighbours.
Widespread dire poverty amongst the rural population appears to be true even for the vast majority of those involved in the cultivation of opium poppy. Cultivation is found to be most concentrated amongst the households with limited access to both cultivable land and irrigation. This is attributed to employing the available scarce resources to maximize gains through opium production to make ends meet. Furthermore, these households tend to rely heavily on daily wage labor (generated mainly from off-farm income in harvesting of poppy) and as much as 86 percent of their total cash income is derived from involvement in poppy production. This group also possesses livestock of lower value and it is found that the only secure source of cash income available to them is through opium. Their cash incomes are also mostly spent on food consumption. Furthermore, continued opium poppy cultivation is seen as the main strategy for repaying debts.
Recent estimates by UNODC show that 14 percent of the Afghan population is involved in opium cultivation.  The statistic has been characterized as nothing less than a ‘social revolution’ by critics, with one-seventh of the population directly involved in production of a cash crop for global markets. Furthermore, the profits reaching farmers are reported to be a small share of the whole, with opium’s $1 billion farm-gate value accounting for only 11 percent of total illicit and licit GDP.
The studies pertaining to motivational factors behind opium cultivation, project the role opium plays in an insecure environment in a country that is the fifth least developed in the world and the poorest in Asia as contrapuntal to the current research by UNODC and the policy rhetoric and design by the US.
According to UNODC’s findings that have been quoted by the US counter-narcotics doctrine, poppy cultivation is not associated with poverty any longer. The UNODC report notices that opium cultivation has diminished in centre-north Afghanistan, ‘despite massive poverty,’ unlike the ‘relatively rich’ south-western Afghanistan which has comparatively higher levels of income. The report highlights that around 70 percent of the country’s poppies were grown in five provinces along the border with Pakistan, notably Helmand, the ‘relatively rich’ southern province providing 50 percent of the whole opium crop. It also collates the security variable by suggesting that counter-insurgency cannot disregard the threat posed by drug profits to Taliban.
The US counter-narcotics doctrine following the same lines goes a step further in stating that those who grow poppy or traffic in drugs ‘will be defeated just as the insurgents will be,’ and that ‘contributing to Taliban financially, with people, or with weapons is equivalent to insurgent activity.’
Furthermore, both UNODC and the US in their counter-narcotics measures highlight the use of aggressive eradication to cut down opium supply. UNODC notices that not enough fields were eradicated due to corrupt deals between elders, eradication teams and people, and notably mentions the influence of provincial governors who helped in securing poppy-free provinces. The US counter-narcotics doctrine makes eradication a priority, with non-negotiated methods of forced eradication. It also cites Governor-led eradication efforts in securing poppy free provinces and sets the objective of making the Afghan government set reduction targets for Governors and rewarding those who excel in suppressing poppy planting.
This line of argument has been proved faulty by researchers and described as simplistic and dangerous. The claim that the opium-free north-east provinces with poor farmers did not cultivate opium due to security, leadership and incentives needs careful examination. A field report noted:
‘When significant reductions in cultivation have occurred in a given area, as was the case in the province of Nangarhar in the 2004-05 growing season and in the province of Balkh this year, it is immediately lauded as a success. The fall in levels of cultivation is typically attributed to the commitment of the provincial and local authorities and on the role of counter-narcotics information strategies. Little attention is given to how households have replaced the multifunctional role that opium poppy plays in rural livelihood strategies and therefore whether the shift in cropping patterns is part of a wider process of diversification of both crops and income, or simply a temporary response to a political imperative.’
With opium supplying credit to cash-strapped farmers in an insecure environment characterized by fierce clashes between armed insurgents and allied forces, it challenges rational thinking that farmers turned their backs away from opium cultivation because they were not greedy. For example, the phenomenon of selling child brides to settle off debts accrued to drug traffickers by desperate farmers of Nangarhar– ‘a case of backsliding’ does not sit well with the greedy farmers’ argument. The farmers must have been too greedy to sell off their daughters, in some cases, as young as five year olds as well as cultivate opium in 2007 after the phenomenal decrease of 95 percent in 2005. Likewise, the estimated average per capita daily income of a farmer in the rich province of Helmand is reported to be a dollar a day as compared to 0.70 $ per day of a farmer in Balkh. The human development indicators for the south are also reportedly lower than the north, with one of the worst school enrollment indicators for children aged between 6 and 13 in Helmand in 2005. These facts challenge the arguments put forward by UNODC and the US counter-narcotics doctrine that farmers in the south are wealthy and planting poppy out of greed. The truth is that the situation on ground is complex and multifaceted and warrants a closer look.
Cultivation is also not the only aspect of the opium economy, the others being processing and trafficking. For instance, while Kunduz gained poppy-free status, it still remained a trafficking route for heroin and arms. Ghazni, another poppy-free province remained one of the main trafficking routes between south-west, central and north-east Afghanistan due to the Afghan ring road passing through it. The same is cited of Wardak, another poppy-free province where drug trafficking is taking place due to the main routes between northern and southern Afghanistan passing through it. Balkh is mentioned as the leading example where the provincial governor played a leading role in discouraging farmers to cultivate poppy.However, cannabis was cultivated increasingly in Balkh along with 17 other provinces in 2007 and cultivation figures were reported to be up 40 percent for the country. UNODC, in a later report, itself noted that the north eastern region is believed to be the primary supplier of opium to China, with approximately 20 and 40 percent of the opium production of the central and eastern regions trafficked internally to the north-eastern and southern regions.
Paradoxically, the counter-narcotics strategies squarely target the farmers who cultivate opium, aiming to eradicate more fields, punishing the greedy farmers complicit in the Taliban-led insurgency through planting poppy. The people of Afghanistan have been given centre stage, albeit for the wrong reasons. Opium cultivation has been reduced to a criminal activity motivated by greed which benefits armed groups, while virtuous farmers abide lawfully by not planting opium. The fact overlooked through the discussion of virtue and greed is the role played by the dynamics of trafficking and processing in adding value to opium poppy that would not have been possible without the complicity of influential players in the power structure.
This disjunction of identities, roles and dynamics between the opium economy and counter-narcotics policies bears on the process of state building in a country that is controlled by a weak government in Kabul, foreign forces and armed radical groups. The people of Afghanistan – vectors of change and a pulsating reality in the morass of distant objectives and purported goals are being neglected and targeted at the same time. The stakes are high and the risks enormous. The interplay between these players and their impact on state building needs to be questioned persistently and explored seriously in order for responsible policy outcomes to be developed.
The poppy problem of Afghanistan lies at the heart of governance and state building. Despite the role of opium production in providing access to credit to farmers in conditions of extreme insecurity and offering a survival strategy, it is an illegal activity. Thus, while it provides farmers an opportunity to attain a decent standard of life, it places them at the receiving end of punitive measures, be they of drug traffickers or the government and the foreign patrons. It also does not offer a chance to alter the status quo, with farmers at the lower end of the exploitative production chain, only getting a chance to make ends meet and the bigger landowners and traffickers taking the bigger cut of opium profits.
Furthermore, the profits accrued as a result of the opium economy hardly stay within the country or contribute to helping the government in attaining self-sufficiency or providing basic amenities to the people. A chunk of the profits is purported to finance the Taliban led insurgency, fund their expenses and help them buy weapons to fight the central government and its patrons. The opium economy also entrenches the exploitative status quo, benefiting corrupt power holders, thereby striking at the processes of governance and state building. Unequal gains from opium production and trafficking directly influence the capacities of the actors since these are used to bribe, buy weapons, acquire land, increase the value of irrigated land and exacerbate land scarcity.  In a country with a limited presence of central authority and a lack of effective legal mechanisms to mediate conflicts, the opium economy plays a role in retaining and strengthening the bargaining powers of the old status quo.
The counter-narcotics strategies, with their focus on the supply side of the opium economy and quick wins, have further influenced the entrenchment of the existent power structure as well as frayed the links between the people and the government. Through their stated causalities for the conflict which include greed, security and opium production, they will further impinge upon the dynamics of state building by translating into aggressive counter-narcotics policies targeting farmers.
The emphasis on the Afghan government to show quick results has resulted in using provincial governors and strongmen to control opium cultivation, thereby enabling them to ‘switch off’ production at will. The role of governor-led eradication has been endorsed in UNODC reports as well as in the current US counter-narcotics doctrine. It supports the distribution of funds to governors both during periods of poppy planting and eradication as well as rewarding those who excel in suppressing poppy planting and eradication. The impact of employing governors to control poppy cultivation has been noted by field reports to entrench the drug economy, thereby allowing governors to exercise their power in controlling production as and when it suits their interests. Furthermore, pressure on governors to achieve results in an environment characterized by insecurity of life and sustenance, carrying out eradication and control of opium cultivation has prompted Afghans to question the authority and legitimacy of the government. In a country marked by competing centers of authority, this implies undermining the very state the international community is attempting to build.
Reliance on strongmen, ensconced in the power structure because of their assets, for reducing cultivation and enabling eradication also criminalizes the farmer who thus has nothing left to lose and is rendered vulnerable to exploitation either by the Taliban, the corrupt officials or the foreign troops. Furthermore, rewarding the strongmen for the eradication and prevention of opium cultivation implies that only those at the lowest rung of the opium economy are the wrong doers.
The presumed nexus between insurgency and narcotics profits equates opium also enables poverty stricken farmers to subsist. The causality between conflict and opium enunciated in policy doctrines warrants further probing. Independent studies contend that this linkage generates further insecurity and conflict thereby leading to the very conditions conducive to opium production. For example, the evidence from case studies and surveys in the Laghman and Nangarhar provinces demonstrates that the opium economy is not a cause of conflict. Thus aligning counter-narcotics with counter-insurgency is not only questionable, it also falsely depicts farmers as neo-Taliban, men who grow poppy in the day and kill by night.
The conundrum facing Afghanistan thus lies not only in the nature of the opium poppy economy but also in counter-narcotics policies that cut through the heart of governance and state building. Though poor farmers are dependent on the opium economy for their survival, it is not the panacea for the long term development and security of Afghanistan. It nevertheless signifies a desperate effort on the part of extremely impoverished people to earn a livelihood amid violence in which civilian casualties at the hands of the allied forces or the Taliban are everyday occurrences.
The counter-narcotics policies, with their emphasis on creating poppy-free provinces and drying out funding for the Taliban, are further undermining effective governance and short changing the dream of state building by rewarding strongmen. Convenient causalities between insurgency, poverty and opium cultivation do not explain how farmers subsisting on a dollar a day qualify as being rich, or why cannabis is cultivated by farmers in poppy-free provinces. The Taliban also profit from quarrying high quality marble in Pakistan’s tribal areas, an economic business which would be hard to pin down as illegal or flourishing out of greed.
Unlike the desperate farmers, policy makers do not confront a hunger-related life or death situation in an exploitative cycle of poverty. They have pretentions, however, of being involved in the complex and onerous task of state building in a country that does not qualify as a state.
In the absence of a powerful central authority, viable institutions and law and order, the plight of the Afghan people presents a challenge to policy makers to achieve the distant dream of state building. The ongoing counter-narcotic policies, however, have vilified the people as greedy supporters of insurgency. These policies not only run counter to the goal of winning Afghan hearts and minds but also effectively strike at the important variable of state building i.e., the people of the country.
According to the most generous estimates, the writ of the central government extends to no more than 30 percent of the territory. However this is belied by field reports that chronicle fears of the Taliban closing in on Kabul.  Be this as it may, the crux of the problem is that Afghanistan is a narco-state and it is the ordinary Afghan who holds the key to a peaceful future of the country and the region. Against this backdrop criminalizing the Afghan people, which is the essence of the unpopular counter-narcotics strategy, further alienates them. The only beneficiaries are the so-called strongmen who are powerful enough to control levels of cultivation in return for political and economic gains, and, it is this that poses a greater threat to Afghanistan than the opium poppy economy.
The opium poppy economy of Afghanistan, despite providing the means of survival to poor farmers, is an illegal activity impeding good governance. However, in an environment of acute risk and hardships, it is the only viable alternative for the desperate Afghans. The counter-narcotics policies, focused as they are on quick-fixes, poppy-free provinces and governor-led eradication, are contributing to the entrenchment of an exploitative status quo and ineffective governance. Collating counter-narcotics with counter-insurgency on account of simplistic causalities between poverty and opium cultivation, risks alienating the farmers and tilting their allegiances to the armed insurgents who, in return, hold out the promise of protecting their fields and ensuring their livelihoods.
In essence, the counter-narcotic policies are targeting the weakest link in the chain, the farmers, who are already at the lowest receiving end of the opium economy. The dangers posed by the opium economy and rash counter-narcotics policies are greater than the drug-funded Taliban as they undermine the objective of effective governance and state building. It needs to be ascertained if the collapse of governance and squandering of political capital in the form of lost allegiance and trust of the ordinary Afghan is more lethal to the future of Afghanistan than the drug-funded insurgency.
The links between the Afghans, state-building and the opium poppy economy need to be analyzed beyond convenient fear mongering causalities. For this a determination has to be made whether the drug-funded non-state actors pose a greater danger to the country and the region than the ineffectual attempts at state-building that contribute to the strengthening of the status quo and power structures based on exploitative control of resources. In a region marked by weak governance, abundant natural resources, strong ethnic identities and armed non-state actors, the fall of Afghanistan would be disastrous. There is no margin for error this time.
 Nazia Hussain is a graduate from Boston University and conducting independent research on security and development issues.
 United States Department of State, Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, 2008
(Washington D.C: United States Department of State, Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, 2008)
 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, “Most opium processed now inside Afghanistan,” June 25, 2007.
 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Afghanistan: Opium Survey, 2007 (Kabul: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2007)
 Barnett R. Rubin and Jake Sherman, Counter Narcotics to Stabilize Afghanistan: the False Promise of Crop Eradication, (New York: Center on International Cooperation, 2008)
 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, “Most opium processed now inside Afghanistan,” June 25, 2007.
 Thomas Schweich, “Is Afghanistan a Narco- State?” The New York Times, July 27 2008.
 United States Department of State, U.S. Counter Narcotics Strategy for Afghanistan, 2007. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Afghanistan: Opium Survey, 2007.
 The figure was cited by Mike McConnell, US Director of National Intelligence in his testimony to the Senate Arms Services Committee in February 2008. See for example, “Taliban Control 10 percent of Afghanistan: US,” The daily Times, February 29, 2008. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2008%5C02%5C29%5Cstory_29-2-2008_pg4_12
 World Bank, Afghanistan: State Building, Sustaining Growth, and Reducing Poverty (Washington D.C: World Bank, February 2005).
 Jan Koehler, Conflict processing and the Opium Poppy Economy in Afghanistan (Jalalabad: ARC Berlin: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), June 2005)
 David Mansfield and Adam Pain, Evidence from the field: Understanding Changing Levels of Opium Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan, (Kabul: Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, November 2007)
 United Nations Development Programme, Millennium Development Goals: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (Kabul: United Nations Development Programme, 2005)
 Christopher Ward and William Byrd, Afghanistan’s Opium Drug Economy (Washington D.C.: World Bank SASPR Working Paper Series, 2004). See also United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, The Dynamics of the Farmgate Opium Trade and the Coping Strategies of Opium Traders, 1998 (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 1998).
 Christopher Ward and William Byrd.
 Facts on itinerant harvesters heavily cited from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, An Analysis of the Process of Expansion of Opium Poppy Cultivation to New Districts in Afghanistan,1998 (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 1998)
 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Access to Labour: The Role of Opium in the Livelihood Strategies of Itinerant Harvesters Working in Helmand Province, 1999 (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 1999)
 David Mansfield and Adam Pain, Evidence from the Field: Understanding Changing
Levels of Opium Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan.
 David Mansfield, “The Role of Opium as a source of informal credit in rural Afghanistan,” (paper presented in the workshop on ‘Rural Finance in Afghanistan and the Challenge of the Opium Economy,’ Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development Afghanistan, Kabul, December 13-14, 2004).
 David Mansfield, Diversity and Dilemma: Understanding Rural Livelihoods and addressing the Causes of Opium Poppy Cultivation in Nangarhar and Laghman, Eastern Afghanistan, (Jalalabad: Project for Alternative Livelihoods Document No.2, 2004)
 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Afghanistan: Opium Survey, 2007.
 Barnett R. Rubin and Jake Sherman, Counter Narcotics to Stabilize Afghanistan: the False Promise of Crop Eradication.
 United States Department of State, Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, 2008.
 Centre for Policy and Human Development, Afghanistan Human Development Report 2007 (Kabul: 2007)
 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Afghanistan: Opium Survey, 2007.
 United States Department of State, U.S. Counter Narcotics Strategy for Afghanistan, 2007.
 See for example, Barnett R. Rubin and Jake Sherman, Counter Narcotics to Stabilize Afghanistan: the False Promise of Crop Eradication. Also David Mansfield and Adam Pain, Evidence from the field: Understanding Changing Levels of Opium Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan.
 David Mansfield, Beyond the Metrics: Understanding the Nature of Change in the Rural Livelihoods of Opium Poppy Growing Households in the 2006/07 Growing Season, (Report for the Afghan Drugs Inter Departmental Unit of the UK Government, 2007)
 Sami Yousafzai and Ron Moreau, “The Opium Brides of Afghanistan,” The Newsweek, March 19, 2008. < http://www.newsweek.com/id/129577/output/print >
 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Afghanistan: Opium Survey, 2007.
 David Mansfield and Adam Pain, Evidence from the field: Understanding Changing Levels of Opium Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan
 Jerome Starkey, “Drugs for guns: how the Afghan heroin trade is fuelling the Taliban insurgency,” The Independent, April 29, 2008 < http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/drugs-for-guns-how-the-afghan-heroin-trade-is-fuelling-the-taliban-insurgency-817230.html>
 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Afghanistan: Opium Poppy Free Roadmap and Provincial Profiles, 2008 (Kabul: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2008)
 “Afghanistan’s new drug problem: Marijuana cultivation up 40 percent in 2007,” The International Herald Tribune, November 27, 2007. < http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/11/27/asia/AS-GEN-Afghan-Marijuana.php>
 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Afghanistan: Opium Winter Rapid Assessment Survey, 2008 (Kabul: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2008)
 There is an increasing body of research from the field that notes the repercussions of not paying back debts to traffickers- child brides being only one of them. The reports of eradication teams targeting the fields of poor or those who couldn’t bribe also abound.
See for example, “Turning Afghan Heroin into Kalashnikovs,” IWPR, June 30, 2008. <http://www.iwpr.net/?p=arr&s=f&o=345486&apc_state=henh>
 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and World Bank, Afghanistan’s Drug Industry: Structure, Functioning, Dynamics, and Implications for Counter Narcotics Policy, 2007 (Washington D.C/Kabul: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and World Bank, 2007). The study noted, “The opium economy by all accounts is a massive source of corruption and undermines public institutions especially in (but not limited to) the security and justice sectors. There are worrying signs of infiltration by the drug industry into higher levels of government and into the emergent politics of the country.”
 Jan Koehler and Christoph Zeurcher, “Statebuilding, Conflict and Narcotics in Afghanistan: The View from Below,” International Peacekeeping, Vol.14, No.1 (January 2007), pp.62–74
 Jorrit Kamminga, Director of Policy Research Senlis Council, interview by author, Ottawa, conversation with author October 24, 2006.
United States Department of State, U.S. Counter Narcotics Strategy for Afghanistan, 2007. The report suggests “public recognition and rewards for governors who have excelled in suppressing poppy planting and carrying out Governor-led eradication.”
 Jan Koehler, Conflict processing and the Opium Poppy Economy in Afghanistan (Jalalabad: ARC Berlin: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), June 2005). Also, David Mansfield, Opium Eradication: How to raise the risk when there is nothing to lose? (Kabul: Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, January 2006).
Jan Koehler, Conflict processing and the Opium Poppy Economy in Afghanistan. The Senlis Council, Helmand at War (London: 2006), also The Senlis Council, Afghanistan Five Years Later: The Return of the Taliban (London: September 2006). News from the field reports record farmers’ grievances on eradicated fields that rob their livelihoods.
 See for example, Jan Koehler, Conflict processing and the Opium Poppy Economy in Afghanistan. Barnett R. Rubin and Jake Sherman, Counter Narcotics to Stabilize Afghanistan: the False Promise of Crop Eradication. David Mansfield and Adam Pain, Evidence from the Field: Understanding Changing Levels of Opium Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan.
 Jan Koehler and Christoph Zeurcher, “State building, Conflict and Narcotics in Afghanistan: The View from Below”.
 Pir Zubair Shah and Jane Perlez, “Pakistan Marble Helps Taliban Stay in Business,” The New York Times, July 14, 2008.< http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/14/world/asia/14taliban.html>
 Jason Burke, “Taliban win over locals at the gates of Kabul,” The Guardian, August 24, 2008.
 Thomas Schweich, “Is Afghanistan a Narco-State?” The New York Times, July 27, 2008.