|Afghans lead poppy eradication operations|
By 1st Lt. Brian Wagner, Zabul Provincial Reconstruction Team
ZABUL, Afghanistan (May 5, 2011) — Under the direction of Zabul Provincial Gov. Ashraf Naseri, over 90 Afghan National Security Force, or ANSF, members conducted the first poppy eradication event this year in Zabul province, Afghanistan, May 4. 2011.
About four jerebs, or two acres, were destroyed in Zafarkhil village, Qalat District, in less than an hour.
The Afghan forces used four all terrain vehicles and large sticks to cut down three poppy fields in the village.
"Today we have started the eradication of poppy in Zafarkhil village. We will continue in all areas of Zabul until the cultivation is zero," said Naseri.
The governor said that he had asked and directed the farmers to stop growing poppy during multiple shuras, or meetings, throughout the year. He also mentioned that the government has provided an alternative to poppy by distributing fertilizer and seed to farmers and hopes to continue the program in the future.
The Zabul Deputy Gov. Mohammad Jan Rasolyaar was also on hand and drove one of the ATVs around the field.
"This not only serves as an example of what happens when you grow poppy, it also shows that the government will enforce the law. The eradication efforts will continue throughout the province by ANSF until the growing season is over," said Rasolyaar.
Other provincial leaders present for the eradication included Zabul Provincial Council chairman Haji Aziz, Provincial Chief of Police Col. Abdul Malik Wahidi and Provincial Peace and Reintegration Representative Haji Abdul Ghani Tokhi.
After destroying the crop at the first location, Afghan forces continued to a second site that contained a 76 jereb, or 38-acre, poppy field and eradicated the site.