How Much Can Afghan Farmers Really Make on Wheat?
Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) asked a great question: Sure, it would be better for Afghan farmers to grow wheat instead of poppies, a crop that heavily funds the insurgency. But how much can Afghan farmers really make?
Ambassador Karl Eikenberry did not provide a clear answer. “It changes from year to year and changes from region to region,” he said, citing the “fluctiation of price of wheat, one of the main staple crops of Afghanistan.” Still, it should be possible to give a ballpark answer to such a baseline question. Instead, Eikenberry places emphasis on a point no one is contesting, the “known direct correlation between areas of instabiity in Afghanistan … and high poppy yields.” Helmand, for instance, grows “over 50 percent” of the entire poppy yield for the country, “exactly the area where Gen McChrystal’s forces have as one of the main efforts.”
McChrystal clarified the point for Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.). “We calculate the Taliban get about a third of their funding from the narco trade, but they could operate without it,” he said. The greatest threat from the narco trade is the corrosive corruption that it brings on the governance.”