Opium cultivation rises in Burma and Laos, UN says

Opium in Myanmar Throughout south-east Asia, opium cultivation is now 16% higher compared with 2010

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Opium poppy cultivation has risen significantly in Burma and Laos since 2006, according to a UN report.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODOC) says that in Burma the area of land devoted to opium rose for the fifth consecutive year - by 14%.

In Laos the rise was 38% although the total area under cultivation was low.

The UN blamed poverty, conflict and food insecurity for the rise, adding that high prices made opium production more attractive to farmers.

Burma is the world's second-largest opium-growing country after Afghanistan, with an estimated 43,600 hectares dedicated to opium poppy cultivation in 2011, according to the survey.

UNODC conducted the study with the governments of Burma and Laos. Helicopter, satellite and village surveys were used - the study is carried out annually.

Throughout south-east Asia, opium cultivation is now 16% higher compared with the previous year, according to UNODC.

"The significant increase in opium poppy cultivation coupled with increases in trafficking in methamphetamines and other illicit drugs reflect a growing human security threat to the region,"said Gary Lewis, UNODC regional representative.

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