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UNODC Reports Myanmar Opium Poppy Cultivation Has Increased 33 Percent

“The growth we are witnessing in the drug business is directly connected to the crisis the country is facing. The impact on the region is profound, and the country’s neighbours need to assess and candidly address the situation, and they will need to consider some difficult options.” – Jeremy Douglas

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UNODC Reports Myanmar Opium Poppy Cultivation

Opium poppy cultivation in military-ruled Myanmar increased 33% last year, reversing a six-year downward trend, according to a United Nations report released on Thursday.

An official at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said the growth was “directly related” to the political and economic turmoil in Myanmar since the military took power in a coup nearly two years ago.

“Economic, security, and governance disruptions that followed the February 2021 military takeover have converged, and farmers in remote, often conflict-prone areas… have had little choice but to return to opium,” said Jeremy Douglas, the UNODC’s regional representative.

A spokesperson for the junta did not respond to requests for comment.

Myanmar’s economy has deteriorated since the coup, with the kyat currency falling against the dollar and food and fuel prices skyrocketing.

Myanmar opium poppies

“Without alternatives and economic stability, opium cultivation and production are likely to expand,” UNODC Myanmar country manager Benedikt Hofmann warned.

According to the report, the cultivated area in 2022 will increase by one-third to 40,100 hectares (99,000 acres), while the average estimated yield will increase by 41% to nearly 20 kg (44 lb) per hectare, the highest value since the UNODC began keeping records in 2002.

The eastern Shan State, which borders China, Thailand, and Laos, saw the greatest increase in cultivation, accounting for 39% of the total.

The cultivated area was primarily determined using satellite data in the 2021 report.

According to the report, the annual value of opium produced in Myanmar can reach up to $2 billion, with much of the drug smuggled out to neighbouring countries and then onto the global market.

Jeremy Douglas

About Jeremy Douglas

Mr. Jeremy Douglas is the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, where he oversees and manages operations and strategy from Myanmar to the Pacific in the areas of the rule of law, non-traditional security threats, law enforcement, criminal justice, and drug-related supply and health issues.

He also serves as the UNODC’s liaison to China, Korea, Japan, and Mongolia, as well as regional organizations such as ASEAN and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS). He was the UNODC Representative in Pakistan from September 2009 to April 2013, prior to his appointment as Regional Representative SEAP.

Mr. Douglas worked at the UNODC Headquarters in Vienna, Austria, as the Manager of the Global SMART Program, which assists states in developing an evidence base for effective policy and operational responses to synthetic drugs and precursors.

Prior to joining UNODC Headquarters, Mr. Douglas worked as a Regional Project Coordinator for UNODC in East Asia, where he oversaw a project spanning ASEAN and China.

Mr. Douglas has also worked for the United Nations in New York, the Government of Ontario’s Management Board Secretariat in Canada, and in the Caribbean. Mr. Douglas holds degrees from the London School of Economics and Bishop’s University in Canada.

Click here to download the full report.

Click here to learn about the UNODC Regional Programme for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Click here to learn about UNODC regional work on drug control.

The CTNNews editorial team comprises seasoned journalists and writers dedicated to delivering accurate, timely news coverage. They possess a deep understanding of current events, ensuring insightful analysis. With their expertise, the team crafts compelling stories that resonate with readers, keeping them informed on global happenings.

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