Top 10 Countries known for Producing Opium

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Opium, which is also known as poppy tears, is the dried material obtained from the opium poppy. A plant that grows annually, it contains 12% morphine which is chemically transformed to produce heroin for illegal drug trading. It is interesting to note that heroin has twice the potency of morphine. This heroin can be taken orally, be inhaled or can be had by injecting itself into the veins, through an injection. The production of opium has not changed since the ancient days. However, UN (United Nations) estimates that there are an estimated 4 million opium users around the world. The countries that produce opium need not necessarily be the largest consumers of it. Exporting it from the source country to other countries is another way to increase trade and revenue. The opium plant is a beautiful plant on the outside, but on the inside, it is a completely different story! Thus, there are the top ten countries that are known for producing opium in the world:

10. China

China

China

Although we tend of think of drugs and the problems they bring along as a modern phenomenon, opium with regard to China has an old and dark history. The East India Company began to trade the opium that they later grew in India to China and soon enough, not surprisingly, the Chinese began to get addicted to the drug. Even though it was being used as a medicinal drug there, it was a long time since anybody had dared to use it recreationally. Sadly, that was what began happening there! In 1839 however, the opium trade was forcibly stopped by the Emperor.

9. Thailand

Thailand

Thailand

When interviewed once, 60% of the farmers said that they grew opium in order to buy food. Even though the drug-business is an enormous business worth 65 billion dollars worldwide, very little of that goes back to the growers- the farmers. But it seems as if there is hope for the country after all. Thailand has been noted for the concept of opium replacement that had been first tried there. Agricultural economists would seek to search for crops that would yield more cash for the country and further improve the economy than opium poppy.

8. Pakistan.

Pakistan

Pakistan

Pakistan has of late become a key element in the trade of heroin. It is not just a producer of opium, but also a middle-man for the opium/ heroin received from Iran and Afghanistan, two countries where production as well as processing takes place. The country’s drug problem is however expected to worsen since the U.S troops have left the neighboring Afghanistan. “Drugs are available like peanuts here,” a ridiculous statement it may be, but it still is chillingly true!

7. India

India

India

India produces around half the opium that is used by pharmaceutical industries to produce codeine, morphine, narcotine and other medical products. Situated between the countries of Burma and Afghanistan, the two centres of greatest production of opium, it is hardly a matter of time before India too becomes infamously known for its opium production. It all began in the 18th century when the British placed their foothold on India’s agriculture and began exporting opium among other things to China after forcing the farmers to grow them and give them a revenue lesser than half of what they should actually receive. The city of Gwalior is known as the base for all poppy-related production in the country.

6. Columbia (United States)

Columbia (United States)

Columbia (United States)

Until 1989, Columbia was at peace with itself for producing only cocaine and distributing it to countries worldwide. But then, they changed tracks and added the production of opium among their ‘talents’ that year. From then on, there has been no looking back. At first, the amount of opium being grown was small by normal standards. However, at present, after Afghanistan, Columbia’s drug cartels control much of the world’s trade in high-quality heroin, which costs almost 10 times as much as cocaine. Which makes sense because if there is a source providing heroin inside the United States, why would someone go to all the trouble of bringing it in from around the world? Hence, poppies and heroin trade have remained in bloom since a long time here.

5. Laos

Laos

Laos

Cultivation of opium since last year has risen 66% to 6,800 hectares in the country. Overall, the production of opium has doubled since 2006. Even the number of people who are involved in cultivation have increased with the numbers going as high as 38,000 households for the previous year! Rice deficiency is a common situation among households in Laos and so, the farmers look forward to opium-farming with much zest- because it is their only means to livelihood for the farmer and his family. In 1994, when trade and cultivation both were booming, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between United States and Laos was signed. This lead to a 47% decrease in cultivation of opium from then on.

4. Turkey

Turkey

Turkey

Turkey’s opium farms make up 54% of the total opium zones in the world, according to the average of the last five year’s data. With allowance granted by the United Nations (UN), Turkey has nearly 70,000 farmers in 13 provinces who are allowed to plant opium poppy and produce poppy capsules. Turkey has the distinction of having the ‘Afyon Alkaloids Plant’, which is the world’s largest plant with a capacity to process 20,000 tons of unscratched opium poppy. Due to that, it has the capacity to meet nearly 30% of the world’s legal drug consumption.

3. Mexico

Mexico

Mexico

Heroin use has increased tremendously in the United States recently. And the reason: Mexico. As poppy fields flourish in Mexico and opium production rises, cannabis is losing ground to the poppy in the country. While the Mexican cartel provides only 7% of the world’s heroin, it is a key supplier of the narcotics flowing into the U.S. Heroin has seen a six-fold increase in production from 2007-2011. The United States on the other hand is foolishly giving more attention to the illegal immigrants’ issue instead of focusing their manpower on the illegal drug trade from Mexico to their homeland.

2. Burma

Burma

Burma

Burma is the world’s second largest producer of opium. The government there has been unwilling since ages to battle the ever-growing problem and it won’t be long before all of it hits the government back in the face. Like Afghanistan, opium production has risen in Burma, but quite slowly. Methamphetamine is also produced here and distributed in the regions surrounding it. Among the countries in South-East Asia, Burma is the nation that other countries depend upon, including Thailand and Laos. The north eastern Shen state has the highest density of poppy cultivation.

1. Afghanistan

Afghanistan

Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s opium production has always been a threat to global security and since the past decade, it has been more so. Despite 10 years of US-led war on the nation, opium production in Afghanistan reached a stupendous record-high in 2013 and we are yet to see what the next year has to bring. In fact, this year, Afghanistan has produced more opium than rest of the world combined! The cultivation this year amounted to some 209,000 hectares as opposed to the previous-highest of 193,000 hectares in 2007. Moreover, it is a 36% increase in production since the last year. The illegal trade however is playing havoc on the economy of the country and undermining its security too. Afghanistan has been marked at an export value of 4 billion dollars, where only a quarter goes to the opium farmers. The rest travels back to the drug trafficking dealers, warlords and the district officials.

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