The Taliban is not the only threat facing Afghanistan. The rise in poppy cultivation places the country at risk of moving from narco-economy to narco-state, and as eradication efforts continue to prove wildly unsuccessful, the threat increases. Yet the reasons for poppy's growing influence in the country are not hard to determine. Demographic shifts in the population, decades of war, the financial support it provides the Taliban and war lords, government corruption, and what many farmers feel is a lack of understanding on the part of their own government, all contribute.
For Afghan farmers there are a number of distinct advantages to growing poppy. It is a relatively easy crop to tend, a plus in a country where almost all labor is done by hand. Poppy also needs little water compared to other crops, an asset in a country where all irrigation is gradient fed, making poppy a practical choice.
Missteps by the U.S. government following the fall of the Taliban add to current eradication difficulties. In the years following the fall of the Taliban, the U.S. offered assistance to farmers willing to forgo poppy cultivation. But farmers say the assistance never arrived. The result has been a failure of expectation on the part of farmers, and a return to poppy.
In "Failure of Expectation" reporter Shaun McCanna goes to the poppy fields of Afghanistan, and speaks with farmers who feel that growing poppy is their only choice.