The United Nations has said opium cultivation in Afghanistan will likely decrease in 2009, which could deal a major blow to the illict industry.
High wheat prices, lack of water because of severe drought, the falling price of opium and pressure from the government brought the production down in most parts of the country in 2008, a new UN report 'Opium Rapid Assessment Survey' said.
"There could be a reduction in each and every province in the country, and the number of poppy-free provinces could grow beyond 20 [of the country's 34 provinces]," Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan Kai Eide said after releasing the report.
Since 2002, poppy production had increased every year until a small reduction last year, but a major reduction in is now within the reach, Eide said.
"The decline in poppy cultivation could deal a major blow to the illicit industry," he said.
Like the pevious years, opium cultivation in 2009 is expected to be virtually confined to the seven most "unstable provinces" in the south and south west of Afghanistan, where production has also been significantly reduced.
"Since this industry is so intimately linked to crime, corruption, and food insecurity, the effects could be wide-ranging, and very positive," Eide said.