Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Independent today published my letter in response to a previous letter (which was in response to David Davis' 1May article) in which the author absurdly stated that no one had any better ideas for Afghan agriculture than the cultivation of opium, and that we ought to buy opium products to prop up the economy.
Sadly though, the Independent did not print my letter in its entirety, and omitted the crucial detail about the title of the report by myself and Bobby Pugh - it as Hemp as a Replacement Crop for Heroin in Afghanistan; the subject of which I will now invite them to enter at large upon in an article.

1 comment:

Timedonkey said...

Economic Stability in Afghanistan: A Practical Solution

Sustainable economic opportunity is essential in Afghanistan to build political stability. The largest current source of revenue for the Afghan farmer is the cultivation of poppies for heroin production. The illegal nature of poppy production requires that the farmers pay for the protection of various militias, war lords and power brokers to ‘allow’ them to grow poppies. The product is then sold to the same agents that are protecting them from government intervention. At the end of the day the farmer gets very little but has no other practical option.
The solution is to replace poppy production with industrial hemp production and have the new government guarantee the price, market and processing of the raw hemp. The farmer would end up with more revenue from the legal openly grown hemp than he currently does from growing poppies. This eliminates a problem crop and the illegal cash that it generates and replaces it with a sustainable, high value crop that can be used to create energy, fiber, oils, medicines and many other essential products. All of that with the added benefit of freeing millions of farmers from dependence on armed protection.
31 countries currently cultivate hemp for industrial and medical use to provide for a growing demand for this renewable resource including Canada, China and France.
The case for Hemp is this, the short growing period, hardiness and drought tolerance of hemp, combined with the already existing cultural knowledge and experience of the Afghan farmers make the substitutional process ‘Poppies for Hemp’ a plausible and possible agricultural strategy with predictable social, economic and political results, prosperity and peace.
It is time to rethink the value of Hemp for the same reason we suspended the Marijuana Tax Act during World War II, we needed hemp then to defend freedom and we could use it again to establish economic sustainability for some of the most vulnerable and freedom loving people on the earth.
If our foreign policy is to win the minds and hearts of an oppressed and distrustful people try starting with and honest opportunity.