Jan 26, 2023, 7:03am EST
Southeast Asia

Opium cultivation surges under junta rule in Myanmar


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Opium cultivation in Myanmar surged by a third since the ruling junta seized power from an elected government in February 2021, a United Nations report found, reversing a downward trend.

A field of poppies near Milíčov ponds, Prague.
Wikimedia Commons/T. Kebert
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Data from the first full growing season since the military takeover showed a 33% increase in opium poppy production and an 88% rise in potential opium yield, the annual survey from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime showed.

“The 2022 results confirm a significant expansion is underway of Myanmar’s opium economy,” the UNODC said, reversing the downward trend of 2014-2020.

It found that political, economic, and security disruptions were driving farmers in remote areas towards poppy production as a source of consistent income.

Myanmar, the second-largest producer of opium in the world after Afghanistan, has an opium economy worth around $2 billion.

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“The growth we are witnessing in the drug business is directly connected to the crisis the country is facing,” said UNODC Regional Representative Jeremy Douglas. “The impact on the region is profound, and the country’s neighbours need to assess and candidly address the situation.”