Thursday, 28 May 2009

Kill the Dragon: $1 A Day

The Atlantic Council's Afghanistan Report highlights some very interesting points. Over the next couple of postings, I'd like to pick out some of these as they give us lots of food for thought, but before that lets consider some of the immediate issues faced by the country:
  • weak governance and corruption
  • flourishing narcotics trade forming an under-belly economy
  • weakened education systems
  • extremism/Taliban/insurgency
I'm not quite sure where I stand with the whole governance issue - I'm a natural political cynic, (probably more so) knowing that warlords and corrupt officials were invited into the post 9/11 Afghan administration. What I do know for sure is that historically, successive governments in Afghanistan have been subject to interference and manipulation by neighbouring (as well as distant) countries. Fingers, alas, point in several different directions, including the countries on the immediate doorstep.

Living off $1 a day

But the main point I would like to highlight in this posting is the most simple in my opinion. With the rural income per capita at $1 a day, opimium farming is far more profitable than traditional agriculture. Afghanistan has ample potential for being a nation with a strong economy based on agriculture. If the balance could be tipped from $1 to $4 a day, the opium trade would become unprofitable.


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