Laos officially declared to the world Tuesday(Feb.14) that it had successfully abolished opium poppy cultivation after starting its opium poppy eradication efforts six years ago, when Laos was still the world’s third-largest opium producer.
Mr. Soubanh Srarithirath, the head of Laos' National Commission on Drugs Control and Suppression, told VOA that Tuesday's event also included a signing ceremony for drug control cooperation between the Lao drug control commission and the Federal Service of the Russian Federation for Narcotics Traffic Control. There was also a seminar hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to discuss methods to help Laos maintain its opium-free status.
Lao officials say their current concern is the problem of opium addicts, who number over 12,000, mostly highlanders. Although Laos declared itself officially free of poppy cultivation, it still expects to produce an average of 30 tons of opium annually to be used for medicinal purposes.
Listen to our Laos Today report for details in Lao.