The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) bragged about helping an Afghan farmer start a pomegranate orchard by posting a photo of the man in a poppy field.
USAID Afghanistan posted a photo to Twitter Sunday evening championing its investment in Afghan farmers, particularly Rahmatullah, who according to the post “started his own pomegranate orchard” in the province of Kandahar.
— USAID Afghanistan (@USAIDAfghan) May 1, 2017
The problem, of course, is the photo shows a farmer hard at work in a poppy field, rather than a pomegranate orchard, a fact Twitter users were all too eager to note.
@USAIDAfghan What a pomegranate orchard looks like :
What you’re showing here… Does appear to be Opium pic.twitter.com/UagANVVUcE
— David Middleton NZ (@ohthatdude) May 1, 2017
USAID has attempted to curb opium production by giving farmers grants to grow other crops like pomegranates.
Despite the efforts of USAID and other agencies that spent $8.5 billion to eradicate narcotics, Afghanistan broke records for opium production in 2016.
Poppy production increased by 43 percent in 2016, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s (SIGAR) latest Quarterly Report to Congress published Monday.
“Deteriorating security conditions, a lack of political will and the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics’ ineffective management all contributed to the paltry eradication results in 2016,” the report stated. Poppy “cultivation remained near historically high levels compared with the past several decades.”
USAID later clarified on Facebook that Rahmatullah “eradicated the poppy on his land to grow pomegranates, one of Afghanistan’s most prized commodities.”
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