Laos' highest ranking drug official acknowledges that former opium growers have gone back to growing opium because of poverty and lack of alternative way of making a living. Even though Laos has declared itself opium-free, there are now over 1,500 hectares of land still under opium cultivation, capable of producing more than 10 tons of raw opium.
Mr. Soubanh Sritthilath, the head of Laos' National Commission on Drug Suppression and Control, admits that poverty and high opium price force former opium growers to return to their fields. He expresses gratitude to foreign countries such as Germany, Luxembourg, the United States, Japan, and others, for their assistance in his country's effort to eradicate opium, but adds that an additional $80 million is needed. However, only 10% of that amount has been pledged for the past two years.
Listen to our Laos Today report for more details in Lao.