US announces major shift in Afghanistan drug policy | world | Hindustan Times
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US announces major shift in Afghanistan drug policy

world Updated: Jun 28, 2009 20:10 IST

Admitting "failure" in checking poppy production in Afghanistan and illicit funds raised by Taliban, the US will change the way it deals with the problem by financing Afghan farmers to cultivate other crops.

Announcing the policy change, US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke said current measures against poppy growers had been "a failure".

Instead of destroying the poppy crops the US will now spend money encouraging Afghan farmers to grow different ones, he said at the meeting of G-8 foreign ministers in Trieste, Italy.

Holbrooke said that existing programmes of eradication had not reduced by one dollar the amount of money the Taliban earned from production.

"Spraying the crops just penalises the farmer and they grow crops somewhere else. The hundreds of millions of dollars we spend on crop eradication has not had any damage on the Taliban," Holbrooke was quoted as saying by BBC.

"On the contrary, it has helped them recruit. This is the least effective programme-ever," Holbrooke added.

Holbrooke said in future destruction of poppy fields would be phased out and the money instead redirected to farmers to grow different crops.

The move was welcomed by delegates at the G8 conference, the report said.