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9 May. 2018
Zhou Xing Ci's family have farmed poppies for as long... more
9 May. 2018
Lashio, Myanmar
Zhou Xing Ci's family have farmed poppies for as long as anyone remembers, scraping the flowers' sticky brown sap to produce opium. Along with many other farmers in the hills of eastern Myanmar, the crop Ð much of which ends up as heroin sold on foreign streets - has in recent years put Myanmar behind only Afghanistan as the world's leading source of opium. A Chinese company working with farmers hopes the silk-producing larva can help the farmers, and their country, quit the drug. "Growing opium is too tough. It's only one harvest every year and a rain can easily destroy a whole year's work," said Zhou. The price for opium has fallen, he said, and growing poppies risked running afoul of heavy-handed eradication efforts by Myanmar authorities. The price drop, alongside the rise of synthetic drugs like methamphetamine, has contributed to a 25 percent fall in the total area of Myanmar under poppy cultivation since 2015, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The U.N. agency has assisted more than 1,000 farmers to switch from opium to another cash crop, coffee, since 2014, said Troels Vester, UNODC country manager for Myanmar. REUTERS/Ann Wang SEARCH "MYANMAR SILKWORMS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY. Matching text: MYANMAR-SILKWORMS/
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