The United Nations has reported that Myanmar has surpassed Afghanistan as the top producer of opium in the world.

The United Nations has reported that Myanmar has surpassed Afghanistan as the top producer of opium in the world.

According to a United Nations report released on Tuesday, Myanmar has surpassed Afghanistan as the top global producer of opium in 2023 following the Taliban’s crackdown on the industry. The country in question is Bangkok, Thailand.

According to the recent report from the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Myanmar generated around 1,190 tons of opium, a crucial ingredient in the production of heroin, this year.


In a photograph taken on February 3, 2019, a farmer is seen working in a forbidden field of opium poppies in Hopong, located in Myanmar’s Shan State.


According to UNODC, the numbers show a significant decrease of 95% in opium production in Afghanistan, dropping to approximately 364 tons after the Taliban government prohibited poppy cultivation in April of last year.

For a significant amount of time, this area has been a hub for the illegal creation and distribution of drugs, specifically methamphetamine and opium.

According to UNODC, the total estimated worth of Myanmar’s “opiate economy” has increased to a range of $1 billion to $2.4 billion. This is equivalent to 1.7% to 4.1% of the country’s 2022 GDP.

According to reports, approximately 871 tons of opium were manufactured in Myanmar in the previous year.

conflict and instability since the military seized power

In 2021, there was an increase in poppy cultivation among farmers.

It has been one year since the violent takeover of Myanmar by the military.

The report stated that limited access to markets and government infrastructure, along with high inflation, likely influenced farmers’ choice to grow more poppy in late 2022.

According to UNODC, the projected opium production for 2022-23 is the highest it has been in over two decades.

The report mentioned that the production of poppies in Myanmar is becoming more advanced due to higher investments and improved methods. This includes better irrigation techniques and the potential use of fertilizers, resulting in higher crop yields.

The spokesperson for the Myanmar junta could not be reached for comment, according to AFP.

A high-ranking law enforcement official in the country’s anti-drug division stated that conflict is hindering their efforts to find and eradicate poppy fields.

The anonymous officer stated that without security, there is limited action that can be taken despite the desire to do more.

Recently, the northern region of Shan state, known as the primary cultivation region in Myanmar, has been experiencing conflict due to an attack by a coalition of armed ethnic minority groups against the military junta and its supporters.

According to a report by the United Nations, Shan state holds a majority of the opium poppy fields in Myanmar, covering approximately 88 percent of the total 102,054 acres. This region makes up a significant portion of Myanmar’s land area and is characterized by deep valleys and forest-covered hills.

A dizzying assortment of ethnic armed groups with access to large numbers of heavily armed fighters dominate parts of the region, which the United Nations reports is the main supplier of methamphetamine in Southeast Asia.

Analysts believe that certain individuals possess self-governing territories that were given to them by past military regimes. These enclaves are known for housing casinos, brothels, and weapons production facilities.

The United Nations reported a rise in cultivation in both northern Kachin state and Chin state, which shares a border with India.

Experts suggest that the military, which toppled a democratically elected administration and took control in 2021, is not committed to putting an end to the multi-billion dollar trade.

Earlier this year, the leader of Myanmar’s Central Committee on Drug Abuse Control made a rare admission that their attempts to eliminate the drug trade were ineffective.

The Taliban asserts that opium production has been completely eliminated.

In recent years, Afghanistan has been the leading global producer of illegal drugs. However, this trend has shifted as the Taliban government has made a commitment to eradicate drug production. The 2022 report from the UNODC reflects this decline in cultivation.

According to reports, the production of poppies has been on the rise.

The resurgence of the Taliban in government.

However, the data from UNODC shows a significant reversal of that trend in 2023.

In 2022, poppy crops made up approximately 33% of the country’s agricultural production revenue. However, the land dedicated to growing poppies decreased significantly from 575,756 acres in late 2022 to 26,687 acres in 2023.


In March 2022, employees in Kandahar, Afghanistan harvested poppy tears, also known as raw opium, from a poppy plantation in Zhari district.


According to Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesperson for the Afghan Taliban, poppy farming has been eliminated. However, he recognized the difficulties faced by farmers who have had to switch to less profitable crops.

He stated that although it is not currently being grown, there is no guarantee that it will not be grown in the future due to various challenges people are facing.