Opium poppy production in Myanmar ramped up dramatically following the 2021 military coup, the UN's drugs office said Thursday, as political and economic turmoil drove farmers to cultivate the crop.
The country's economy has been paralysed following the military power grab in February 2021 and subsequent fighting between the junta and anti-coup rebels.
The area of land used for opium poppy cultivation expanded by a third to just over 40,000 hectares in 2021-22 — the first full growing season since the coup — according to a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report released Thursday.
The potential output also shot up by nearly 90% compared with the previous year, to 790 tonnes.
The results show that there is a "significant expansion" of Myanmar's opium economy, the UNODC report said.
"Economic, security and governance disruptions that followed the military takeover of February 2021 have converged, and farmers... have had little option but to move back to opium," UNODC regional representative Jeremy Douglas said.
"The growth we are witnessing in the drug business is directly connected to the crisis the country is facing."
The report, based on satellite imagery and fieldwork, said the downward trend in opium production seen from 2014 to 2020 had gone into reverse.