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Afghan Opium Poppy Cultivation Increases as Eradication Collapses, says UN Report

The greatest area of Opium cultivation recorded to date was 224,000 hectares in 2014

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FILE - Afghan farmers collect raw opium as they work in a poppy field in Khogyani district of Jalalabad east of Kabul, Afghanistan, May 10, 2013. VOA
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Opium production in Afghanistan increased this year to one of the highest levels on record as efforts to eradicate the crop in a country that provides much of the world’s heroin collapsed, the United Nations said Wednesday.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reports annually on opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan and is due to give its yearly update toward the end of this month.

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“Unfortunately, preliminary results suggest that illicit cultivation has increased well above 200,000 hectares [494,000 acres],” UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said in the text of a speech prepared for delivery to an international conference on Afghanistan in Brussels.

That would make it one of the top three years since the UNODC began providing estimates in 1994, according to previous reports by the Vienna-based agency. The greatest area recorded to date was 224,000 hectares in 2014.

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“The production of opiates is expected to follow the same upward trend,” Fedotov said. “Eradication has been close to zero.”

Eradication rose 40 percent in 2015, to 3,760 hectares, according to the last UNODC annual opium survey for the country.

Fedotov did not give a reason for the increase in production, but his agency’s 2015 report said there is a “high correlation” between a poor security situation and poppy cultivation, and the government in Kabul is facing a resurgent Taliban 15 years after U.S. forces helped oust the militants.

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Taliban successes on the battlefield have exposed the defensive limits of Afghanistan’s NATO-trained armed forces, which are supposed to number 350,000 personnel but which have been heavily depleted by casualties and desertion.

“Clearly we cannot afford to see international community engagement in Afghanistan weaken,” Fedotov told the conference, at which world powers raised $15 billion to fund the country over the next four years. (VOA)

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

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Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)