Robert I. Rotberg
The Boston Globe JANUARY 13, 2006
There is a striking antidote to worsening security in Afghanistan, where suicide bombing and convoy ambushes now occur every day. Increasingly, these Taliban- and Al Qaeda-sponsored attacks are linked to opium and heroin trafficking. Afghanistan supplies 80 percent of Europe's heroin and is the largest grower of poppies in the world. Instead of legalizing poppy growing or attempting to eradicate the stubborn plants and destroy the livelihoods of impoverished farmers, why not pay the farmers to grow something else?
Afghans already grow wheat as their staple grain. Simply exhorting farmers to turn away from poppies to wheat, saffron and pomegranates will not work. But providing serious, guaranteed, long-term incentives that will encourage farmers to grow wheat in preference to poppies could well produce addictions to wheat instead of heroin. Senior Afghans, meeting in December at Harvard University with Americ…