The US Department of State, for background: Afghanistan

The U.S. remains committed to working with President Karzai and his team as they rebuild the institutions of government and bring the benefits of peace and stability to every region of Afghanistan. A key priority of our assistance is to help the Afghan Government rebuild the infrastructure and institutions of Afghanistan

Of vast importance is of course the rebuilding of the leading agricultural farm crop, opium. According to the United Nations a dramatic 49% increase last year to a record opium poppy harvest in the country led to a new record in the world production of opium. Afghanistan accounts for 92% of global opium production. The total export value of the country’s opium harvest is estimated by the UN to amount to more than $3 billion, almost half the size of the country’s entire gross domestic product. More than 12% of Afghanistan’s population of 23 million is involved in opium poppy cultivation.

The second major Afghan institution to suffer terribly from the war and subsequent devastations is of course the enduring Afghan National sport of Buzkashi.

“We have the men, we have the horses, but bloody ‘ell if we’ve run out of goats” President Karzai was heard to mutter. American Ambassador William Wood and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have been reported to have taken a personal interest in rectifying the situation. As a quick fix the Embassy initially found and delivered several dozen Angora Rabbits, mistaking them with Angora Goats. “it wasn’t a pretty sight, the Ambassador was appalled at how easily the ears came off with one good tug. And the Afghan Buzkashi players of course were just left with a bloody mess”.

“We were lucky there was enough opium to go around after that fiasco, it might have really gotten out of hand.”

jan 20, 2008