Fewer Poppies Cultivated In Myanmar
Feb 06, 2020

Poppy cultivation in Myanmar registered an 11-per cent decline in 2019, while the acreage under the opium crop came down by 33,100 hectares over the previous year, the new Myanmar Opium Survey just released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) revealed.

According to the UNODC’s report 2019, Myanmar’s ranking dropped to the third position in the World Drug Report 2019 behind Afghanistan and Iran from the second largest opium producer in the world in terms of cultivation area.

Shan State, which accounts for 85 per cent of cultivation in Myanmar, saw a drop of 14 per cent to 28,000 hectares, continuing a downward trend that started in 2015 when Shan had an estimated 50,300 hectares under opium cultivation. Kachin state accounted for 12 per cent or 3,900 hectares in 2019, and Chin and Kayah states together for three per cent, or 1,200 hectares.

The national average yield was estimated at 15.4 kilogrammes per hectare in 2019, a nine-per cent increase over 2018. So, the drop in acreage did not necessarily bring down drug output correspondingly.

Raw opium prices in decline

The report also said that average farm-gate values of fresh and dry opium decreased by four per cent and seven per cent, respectively, between 2018 and 2019. The decline in values combined with the reduction in supply suggests that demand for heroin derived from opium in the region is dropping, as the drug market continues to shift strongly towards synthetic drugs.

The export of heroin from Myanmar generates approximately $1 billion for an illicit local drug economy, while domestic heroin consumption of six tonnes is valued at up to $290 million.

Opium cultivation and heroin production in Myanmar continue to pose a significant public health and security challenge for Southeast Asia and neighbouring East Asia and Australia, UNODC said. There are an estimated three million heroin users in the region, with the retail market generating approximately $10 billion annually.