UNODC confirms steady reduction in opium cultivation in Myanmar

UNODC confirms
steady reduction in opium cultivation in Myanmar

following is the press release issued by United Nations Office on Drugs and
Crime (UNODC) on 11 October, 2004.

Brussels, 11 October— Today, the
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released the results of
Myanmar’s Opium Survey 2004. The survey shows a 29 per cent decline in
comparison to 2003. The opium cultivation this season is estimated at 44,200
hectares (ha) representing a significant cumulative decline of 73 per cent when
compared to the 163,000 ha in 1996.

The production of opium for the
year 2004 amounted to 370 metric tons, representing a decline of 54 per cent
with respect to 2003.

The Shan State traditionally has
accounted for more than 90 per cent of total opium production in Myanmar.

“Factor in a parallel decline in
opium cultivation in Laos — 45 per cent in comparison to 2003 — and what we may
be seeing, if the decline continues, is a potential end to more than a century
of opium production in the Golden Triangle,” said Antonio Maria Costa, the
Executive Director of UNODC. Speaking to an audience in Brussels, Costa added:
“Today Myanmar faces a critical, two-fold challenge. First, the country needs a
permanent decline in opium production. At the same time, Myanmar must do
everything in its power to head-off the humanitarian disaster threatening
opium-growing families who at present live on, or below, the poverty line.”

According to the survey, 260,000
households were involved in opium cultivation in 2004. Most of them reside in
remote, mountainous, and isolated areas, and opium is often their primary or
sole source of income. Most importantly, the average income of non-opium
producing households is 30 per cent higher than opium producing households.
“Opium is a last resort for farmers confronting hunger and poverty,” said Mr.
Costa. “If we do not provide for the basic human needs of farmers in Myanmar,
they will never escape the vicious circle of poverty and opium cultivation. The
opium communities will remain vulnerable to human rights abuses, human
trafficking and forced relocation,” added Mr. Costa.

According to Gareth Evans,
President and CEO of the International Crisis Group (ICG), “It is very
encouraging that the United Nations has been able to report such a significant
decline in opium production in Myanmar. However if these declines are to be
sustained, more will have to be done to provide economic opportunities for those
living in border areas in Myanmar — even in the absence of political reform,
which is essential. ICG has recommended that donors develop new strategies,
working with the UN and others to reduce poverty and to tackle the problems of
conflict, disease and drugs that have caused so much harm in this region.”

“Democratization and national
reconciliation in Myanmar, as well as national commitment to drug control, are
goals the United Nations has re-affirmed on several occasions. The international
donor community carries a responsibility to support this process by providing
alternative sources of income to those families in Myanmar whose livelihoods are
adversely impacted by the loss of opium-generated revenue,” concluded Mr. Costa.

This survey jointly carried out
by UNODC and the Myanmar Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control provides also
figures on addiction. The survey (
is based on field work complemented with satellite imagery.

2004 Myanmar
Opium Survey-Results at a Glance

2004 the total area under opium poppy cultivation in Myanmar stood at 44,200 ha,
a decrease 29% from 2003 and 73% from 1996.

Bad weather conditions depressed
the average opium yield. Total potential opium production in Myanmar was
estimated at 370 metric tons – a decrease of 54% compared to 2003.

The average farm gate price of
opium in 2004 was US$234 per kilogram — an increase of 80% over 2003 prices.

The 2004 total farm gate value of
opium production amounted to US$ 87 million.

The survey estimates that 260,000
households in Myanmar engage in opium cultivation. The average household earns
just US$133 per year from the sale of opium — however, this is equivalent to 62%
of their total annual household income of US$ 214. In contrast, non-opium
farming households reported annual incomes of US$276.

The survey carried out in Shan
State combined the use of satellite images and ground verification; 59
high-resolution satellite images, together with a ground survey of 598 village,
69 opium fields, and interviews with 6,592 households.

Rapid assessment surveys were
carried our for the first time in the Sagaing Division. Kachin and Chin States.
No large scale poppy cultivation was found. For further information on the 2004
Myanmar opium survey or to request a survey report, please contact Nikolas Win
Myint, Programme Officer, via phone (ext,222) or e-mail ([email protected]).

Myanmar and
Thailand discuss cooperation in drug elimination

7 Oct — The Myanmar-Thai Cooperation in Drug Elimination Meeting was held at the
administration hall of the Drug Elimination Museum on Kyuntaw Street in Kamayut
Township, this afternoon, attended by Chairman of Central Committee for Drug
Abuse Control Minister for Home Affairs Col Tin Hlaing, Minister at the Prime
Minister’s Office Brig-Gen Pyi Sone, the work group chairmen and secretaries of
CCDAC, guests, Secretary-General of Mae Fah Laung Foundation Chief Executive
Officer of Doi Tung Development Project of Thailand Mom Rajawongse Disnadda
Diskul and party and Thai Ambassador to Myanmar Mr Suphot Dhirakaosal.

First, Minister for Home Affairs
Col Tin Hlaing extended greetings. Afterwards, Chief Executive Officer of Doi
Tung Development Project of Thailand Mom Rajawongse Disnadda Diskul clarified
facts on All-around Development Project of Yaungkha Village-tract in Mongsat
Township, Shan State (East) being implemented with the assistance of Thailand
starting from 2002 and drug elimination tasks.

Afterwards, Mom Rajawongse
Disnadda Diskul answered the queries raised by those present and the meeting
ended in the evening.