The History and Impacts of Opium in Afghanistan
In 1979, Afghanistan was invaded by the Soviet Union. This invasion caused a huge shift
in power when president Mohammad Daud Khan was overthrown by left-wing military officers
led by Nur Mohammad Taraki. Soviet bombing destroyed entire villages, crops, and irrigation,
leaving millions of people dead, homeless or starving. This left Afghanistan with a weak
economy and government; unable to economically sustain itself and its population. The one thing
that kept Afghanistan from hitting rock bottom was opium. Afghanistan started to grow opium in
the 1970s, using it as a remedy against snake bites and other injuries, as well as to quell hunger.
During this time, Afghanistan was one of the smallest opium producing countries in the world;
only amounting “an estimated 1,000 tons in 1979”1. After the Soviet Union invaded, Afghanistan
needed opium more than ever. They started to rely on it much more, and over the years began to
mass produce it. Ever since, opium has provided many social benefits, while simultaneously
boosting Afghanistan's overall economy.
In 1992, Afghanistan became the world’s leading opium producer, producing more than
90% of the world’s opium. Without the production of opium, Afghanistan’s economy would be
drastically worse. Afghanistan has become a huge beneficiary of opium economically,
generating more profit from opium than any it other crop ever produced; 2“Afghan farmers have
received in the range of half a billion dollars annually from opium production, with another
several hundred million dollars probably going to wage laborers”. Currently, opium production
in Afghanistan currently makes about 60% of its income and funds the large cost of the constant
wars occuring there. In 2017, President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan said “Without drugs, this
war would have been long over. The heroin is a very important driver of this war.” Opium is one
of the most dangerous and addictive drugs there is and Afghanistan has taken advantage of this,
creating a much more sustainable source of money than it originally had.
1 Byrd,William. "Drugs and Development in Afghanistan." World Bank. Last modified December 8, 2004.Accessed March 13,
2 Ward, Christopher. "Afghanistan's Opium Drug Economy." World Bank. Last modified December 8,...