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Draining the deserts of Afghanistan

Following the fall of the Taliban many people moved to desert areas, which, in 2002, were nothing but sand.

Over time, increasing numbers of households came to these former desert areas driven by population pressure, the ensuing fighting between ISAF and the Taliban, as well as by efforts to ban poppy by the government of Afghanistan and its foreign backers. In fact it was illegal poppy that provided the means by which to settle these former desert areas.

Were it not for the price premium associated with its illegal status this area would have remained as it was — free of both people and agriculture. Instead, illegal opium provided farmers with the capital required to establish their deep wells, to cultivate new lands, to build a home and to feed both their families and their livestock.

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