Tasked with combating opium, afghan officials profit from it – the new york times

More than ever, Afghan government officials have become directly involved in the opium trade, expanding their competition with the Taliban beyond politics and into a struggle for control of the drug traffic and revenue. Low investment business with high profit in chennai At the local level, the fight itself can often look like a turf war between drug gangs, even as American troops are being pulled back into the battle on the government’s behalf, particularly in Helmand, in southern Afghanistan.

“There are phases of government complicity, starting with accommodation of the farmers and then on to cooperation with them,” said David Mansfield, a researcher who conducted more than 15 years of fieldwork on Afghan opium.

Small business low investment high profit “The last is predation, where the government essentially takes over the business entirely.”

The huge boom in poppy production that began a dozen years ago was strongly identified with the new Taliban insurgency, as the means through which the militants bought their bullets, bombs and vehicles. Best business with highest profit margin In recent years, the insurgents have committed more and more working hours to every facet of the opium business. High profit jobs That fact was built into a mantra of Western officials in Afghanistan: When security improves, opium will be easier to take down.

That the Afghan government is now also competing in the opium business, in the absence of other reliable economic successes, has ramifications beyond the nation’s borders. High profit items to sell online Governments across the region are struggling with the health and security problems brought by the increased opium flow. Business with low investment and high profit in india And as the trade becomes more institutionalized in Afghanistan, it has undercut years of anticorruption efforts, perpetuating its status as a source of regional instability, crime and intrigue.

The administration of President Ashraf Ghani has made fighting corruption a central promise. High profit business ideas uk A spokesman for his government, asked about official involvement in opium trafficking, including in Garmsir, insisted that there was “zero tolerance” for such behavior. High profit margin products “The president has been decisive in acting on information that indicates involvement of government officials in illegal acts, including taxation of opium,” said the spokesman, Sayed Zafar Hashemi.

It relies on a network of village leaders and people employed by farmers to manage the water supply, men known as mirabs. Low cost business ideas with high profit philippines These men survey the land under cultivation and collect money on behalf of officials, both in district-level government and in Kabul.

The connections run deeply into the national government, officials acknowledge privately. Low startup high profit business In some cases, the money is passed up to senators or assembly members with regional connections. High profit products In others, employees in the Independent Directorate of Local Governance, the agency that oversees provincial and district governments, pocket the payoffs, officials said. Low investment high profit business in kolkata Some of the most important regional police and security commanders, including allies of American military and intelligence officials, are closely identified with the opium trade.

But the real money often stays local, with provincial and district officials. High profit margin products to sell In the case of Garmsir, the district governor and police chief reaped the largest share of the rewards, according to local officials and farmers. High profit selling pdf The local police were also included in the profits.

Farmers said they paid about $40 for each acre of poppies under cultivation. Items with highest profit margin on ebay In 2015, that meant nearly $3 million in payments from the district of Garmsir alone, according to officials familiar with the process.

Garmsir is just one of several districts in Helmand Province, the heart of poppy country and the center of the 2010 American troop “surge,” where the government has built local opium alliances with farmers. Low startup cost high profit business The district of Marja has a system similar to the one in Garmsir, in which locals pay a flat rate based on how much poppy they grow, according to interviews with more than a dozen farmers and officials. Business ideas with high profit margins In the district of Nad Ali, the same conditions exist to a lesser extent.

That the Taliban have closed in on some of those districts in recent weeks will mean little to the local growers. Highest profit business in india They paid their tax to the insurgents before the American troop surge and to the government after it. Low investment high profit business philippines They will adjust again.

And the money to be made is only increasing. High profit business to start Already, experts say, satellite imagery from the past growing season across southern Helmand showed that opium cultivation was occurring openly within sight of military and police bases.

“Over the years, I have seen the central government, the local government and the foreigners all talk very seriously about poppy,” said Hakim Angar, a former two-time police chief of Helmand Province. High profit shares in india “In practice, they do nothing, and behind the scenes, the government makes secret deals to enrich themselves.”

By the most basic metric, the international effort to curb poppy production in Afghanistan has failed. Low cost high profit business ideas More opium was cultivated in 2014, the last year of the NATO combat mission, than in any other year since the United Nations began keeping records in 2002.

If there was a bright spot in 2015, it was that a poppy fungus or weevil reduced the harvest by as much as half in some places. High profit business ideas in india But the lower production is likely to mean even more desperate attempts to increase cultivation next year, if the past is any guide.

Government complicity in the opium trade is not new. High profit margin business Power brokers, often working for the government, have long operated behind the scenes, producing, refining and smuggling opium or heroin across one of the many porous borders of Afghanistan. High profit small business That kind of corruption has been seen nationwide.

Taxation on a districtwide level in the main opium-growing centers, however, has been less common. High profit crops Most who spoke about it did so on the condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals. Business with high profit philippines Those who spoke openly tended to have enough resources to deter official blowback.

“Of course it happens here,” said a local police commander in Marja, Baz Gul, who oversees a few dozen men and was one of the residents who first took up arms against the Taliban. Small investment high profit business india “But the police chief, the local police commander, they don’t take the money directly. List of business with low investment and high profit They do it through influential figures.”

As it happens, Marja — one of the most violent districts during the 2010 troop surge, and the site of pitched battles recently between the Taliban and Afghan forces backed by American Special Operations troops — is a case study in opium economics.

One elder in Marja, who collects money from villagers who cultivate poppy in his block of 44 acres, said poppy was simply too alluring to ignore. High profit margin business ideas Even with the tax, even with the blight, opium outstripped the next most lucrative crop by a ratio of more than three to one.

In 2015, the elder said, the group’s earnings came close to $62,000, less than half as much as the year before. Small items with high profit margin With a tax of $60 per acre, the final profit for all 44 acres was roughly $59,000. High profit cash crops By comparison, the average income for an Afghan, according to the World Bank, is $681 a year.

Farmers in Nad Ali said tax collection depended on a number of factors, including one’s relationship with the local police commander, proximity to the district center and how badly crops were hurt by disease. Small scale business with low investment and high profit In some cases, the teams sent by the government to eradicate crops collected the funds. High risk high profit In others, it was the local or national police.

“All of our poppies were disease-affected,” said one farmer in the Loy Bagh area of Nad Ali. Business ideas with low investment and high profit in india “What people paid depended on how much they cultivated and how much was destroyed by the disease.”

The system in Garmsir, however, appears to leave little to chance. High profit business in pakistan The district, farther from the provincial capital than Marja or Nad Ali, enjoys more autonomy than most under government control.

Interviews conducted in mid-March, before the blight appeared, showed a system of accommodation that was settling in comfortably. Best business with high profit While farmers were not happy about paying the government, most saw it as inevitable and noted that the profit margin for opium was still considerably better than for wheat or cotton.

The system ran into turbulence in the spring, when two members of Parliament caught wind of the arrangement. Low investment high profit business After their demand for a cut of the profits was rebuffed, they went public, according to Afghan officials familiar with the case.

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