President Obama has argued that the war on terror has been misguided and that US military forces should have focused on Afghanistan rather than Iraq. In addition to the likelihood that al Qaeda has reconstituted itself during our military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan is quickly becoming the global exporter of opium.
In attempting to curb the spread of opium production in Afghanistan, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has recognized that opium production easily generates the capital needed for al Qaeda and Taliban extremist to continue waging their terrorist operations.
There is, however, great debate in the role the ISAF plays in the eradication of poppy crops throughout Afghanistan. There is a double bind in restricting or altogether destroying poppy crops. Granted, it is clear that opium sales have contributed — as a primary funding source for al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations — to the empowerment of their war against the West. But in expressly destroying these crops, crops grown by the poorest of Afghan farmers, what resources is the ISAF providing for these farmers.
Simply destroying poppy crops is an act in futility if Afghan farmers aren’t given an alternative cash crop, thereby offering incentives to grow cash crops rather than participate in the production of opium. Granted there is exploitation in the production of coffee the world over, but with the modernization of coffee production, and the availability of nearly limitless sunlight, Afghanistan could be an ideal coffee exporter.
It would be my suggestion that NGOs could educate Afghan farmers on the benefits of coffee production, which would enable them to begin the process of transforming their poppy production into coffee production. The more Afghan farmers take control of their crops, the more an international community of futures traders will need to account for a viable new source of coffee production.
Moreover, with an increased supply of coffee originating from Afghan fields, the global price of coffee would drop drastically. Now, it is certain that for multibillion dollar coffee manufactures, the addition of Afghan coffee to the global supply, would certainly be bad for business, which is exactly why Afghan farmers should shift to coffee production.
Rather than merely destroying their crops, the ISAF should educate Afghan farmers on a variety of methods for cultivating coffee beans and subsidize their cost of living, until the crop cycle can be independently sustained.
The production of coffee, then, could serve as a viable alternative to the opium production and it would have the added benefit of dropping global coffee prices. For these reasons, the ISAF should incentivise the production of coffee.