Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Can pomegranate rival poppy in Afghanistan?

Maybe not tomorrow, but one can hope.

The southern province of Kandahar is said to produce perhaps the world's best pomegranates. It is also produces a huge percentage of the opium circulating the globe and is considered the heart of Taliban country. Ugh.

USAID and the UN are hoping that pointing out the quadrupling price of the healthfully pomegranates and dropping price of opium may position the fruit as a potential rival to the poppy. After all, the western demand for pomegranates is on the rise, we seem to be willing to pay out the wazoo for their juice (upwards of $4.50 for 16 ounces of the POM Wonderful brand), and from what I understand, the opium/heroin market may be a little over-saturated.

Of course the pomegranate alone will not fix the widespread nutrition deficiencies or defeat drug lords or Taliban, but perhaps shifting the focal crop of Afghan farmers is a step in the right direction.

Read more in this recent article from The Economist.