Opium Production In South-East Asia Hits New High

Published: 09 December 2014


UNODC has released its Southeast Asia Opium Survey 2014 Lao PDR - Myanmar, showing that opium cultivation had risen more than four percent in one year.

The Dec.8 release estimates that 762 metric tons of opium were produced by Myanmar and Lao PDR combined, resulting in 76 tons of refined heroin distributed in the region and further afield. A steady annual increase of opium cultivation in the last eight years has resulted in the amount harvested in 2006 tripling by 2014. Now, the opium poppy is grown on an estimated 63,800 hectares of land in the region.

The regional integration process, UNODC says, is threatened by the vast opium business, but it also points out the economic hardships faced by populations in poppy-growing villages. Without other economic opportunities, farmers turn to growing opium to avoid poverty.

The high regional demand for heroin means the trade is especially lucrative for international crime groups, which smuggle refining chemicals into the region to produce and distribute the drug. Shan State, cultivating 89 per cent of opium in the region, is the center of Myanmar's heroin business. As a result, insurgent groups threaten regional stability and rule of law.