Despite years of government efforts to eradicate poppy fields in southern Afghanistan families are still relying on the lucrative but illegal harvest to survive. Grace Pascoe reports
Despite years of government efforts to eradicate poppy fields in southern Afghanistan families are still relying on the lucrative but illegal harvest to survive. Grace Pascoe reports These pink petals may look innocent But poppies from Afghanistan provide much of the world's illegal opium. And the government want to crackdown, despite the crop providing the livelihood for many families. Especially those in the Kandahar province. (SOUNDBITE) (Pashto) 60-YEAR-OLD POPPY FARMER, HAJI JANAN, SAYING: "We have to cultivate poppies, we have not received assistance from the government. I have 20 members in my family, I have to feed them." Boys as young as six help out. Peeling and collecting sticky resin - used to make opium, heroin and other drugs. (SOUNDBITE) (Pashto) NAQIBULLAH, 13-YEAR-OLD POPPY FARMER AND SON OF POPPY FARMER HAJI JANAN, SAYING: "There is no school nor madrassa (religious school) so I have to help my father on the poppy field." Eradication campaigns are aiming to replace the poppies with other crops But are yet to significantly impact the harvest. And local government officials say the blame lies with central government (SOUNDBITE) (Pashto) DEPUTY GOVERNOR OF KANDAHAR, ABDUL ALI SHAMSI, SAYING: "We are continuously in contact with the Ministry of Counter Narcotics, asking them to provide us with the capability, funds and assets to start the anti-narcotic campaigning in the Kandahar province as quickly as possible." UN data suggests 180 hectares of opium fields in Zhari were eradicated in 2015 Out of a total of 5,000. Fruit and veg do grow well in the province And Western backers hope legal crops such as pomegranates, grapes and plums may one day replace this lucrative but illegal crop.