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Afghanistan and Opium

The primary cash crop in Afghanistan is the opium poppy—that’s one of the big challenges there. The terrorists like the crop and sell it world-wide to finance their activities. The rest of the world recognizes that the Afgan people need a crop, but also want to eliminate the illegal drug from the world. Well, meet saffron.br /br /Saffron is a type of crocus, deep orange in color, and is typically ground up and used as a cooking spice or food colorant. It has been introduced gradually into Afghanistan with excellent results.br /br /Farmers have expressed interest in the product, and are working to form an assn. to help market and build knowledge about saffron. Saffron is very promising because it was considered more valuable than poppies and it’s relatively easy to grow, requiring little water, which is especially good considering Afghanistan’s often drought-like conditions.br /br /This is a great example of good old American know-how helping local people take charge of their own lives. Unlike the terrorists, our goal is not to control the people, but to free them to live their own lives. This is another small step forward. But it’s going to take a lot of armed GIs to drive off the terrorists and protect the ordinary people until they can develop a stable society and protect themselves. Too often in history we’ve gotten a people much of the way to independence and then cut and run.

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