$18.2m GPI Agreement Inked With US
Kabul – US Ambassador Stephen G. McFarland and Minister of Counter-Narcotics Zarar Moqbel Osmani on Tuesday signed an agreement allocating $18.2 million (939 million afghanis) for programs supported by the Good Performers Initiative (GPI) awards. GPI awards were presented to 21 provinces that achieved poppy-free status in 2012, reduced poppy cultivation by more than 10 percent from the previous year, or made other exceptional counter-narcotics efforts during the cultivation season. Seventeen provinces earned $1 million awards for being poppy-free.
The funds will be used to advance two major strategic objectives — fighting against poppy cultivation through an innovative political incentive programme that delivers high-impact development assistance and encouraging Afghans to improve their communities by driving down poppy cultivation.
At the signing ceremony, Ambassador McFarland said: “This is an important opportunity to recognise the outstanding leadership of the government of Afghanistan and the strong performance of numerous provinces in eliminating and reducing opium poppy cultivation in 2012.”
For his part, Osmani called for a global campaign against the illicit crop. Under the GPI, the governors were empowered to implement basic projects, he said, adding 150 schemes, including schools, meeting halls, training centres, stadiums, health care centres, agricultural warehouses and teacher training colleges, had been implemented in different provinces. He said 17 provinces achieved poppy-free status and poppy cultivation was close to zero in another two.
McFarland said the leadership of provincial governors and the Ministry of Counter-Narcotics in fighting the scourge of poppy cultivation had resulted in the GPI programme funding more than 100 development projects in 33 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.
Such projects include schools, transportation infrastructure, farm machinery projects, hospitals and drug treatment centres. Since the start of the GPI programme in 2007, nationwide cultivation has decreased from 193,000 to 154,000 ha, and the number of poppy-free provinces has increased from six to 17 in 2012. The current $18.2 million funding will go to the continued development support and assistance to provinces that have eliminated poppy cultivation, contributing to a stable Afghanistan. (PAN)