UN says Myanmar opium production increases again
BANGKOK—Opium production in Myanmar increased for the fifth consecutive year in 2011, while its price skyrocketed nearly 50 percent, according to a United Nations report released Thursday.
An upward trend that started in 2007 saw opium production rise 5 percent in 2011 over 2010, from about 580 metric tons (640 tons) to about 610 metric tons (670 tons).
The average price for opium in Myanmar jumped from $305 per kilogram in 2010 to $450 per kilogram this year, an increase of 48 percent, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime's annual South-East Asia Opium Survey.
Opium prices in Southeast Asia have been going up since 2002, with the recent sharp increase in Myanmar due to strong demand from neighboring countries and the depreciation of Myanmar's currency, the kyat, against the dollar the past year, the report said.
The steep price increase is "making production attractive to farmers," the report said, adding that Myanmar needs more programs that support alternative development for opium poppy growers.
Overall opium poppy cultivation increased 14 percent in 2011, but production rose only 5 percent due to decreasing yields, the report said.
Opium production in Laos also increased in 2011, while Thailand saw a slight decrease. Myanmar produced more than 90 percent of the opium in the region in 2011.