Top Opium Poppy Producing Countries

Almost 900 square miles of Afghanistan's land area are dedicated to the cultivation of illegal opium poppies.

Illicit Opium Poppy Cultivation and Heroin Production

Opium poppy is harvested by cutting into the seed pod of a unripe poppy seed head with any kind of available bladed tool. The cuts from the blade let the lets the fluid in the seed come out and then the fluid is harvested off of the seed, usually with a simple curved, spatula-like, handheld tool. The harvested fluid is then put inside open boxes to let it dry out. Once the opium fluid has fully dried into a resin it is then collected and mixed with hot water and a calcium solution inside barrels. Then the liquid is siphoned into separate containers to separate the liquid with the morphine, a binding chemical is added to it and it is placed backed into the barrel to be heated. After it is heated the content in the barrel is stirred and filtered, leaving only the morphine residue that is then dried out. The resulting morphine base is then combined with yet another solution of chemicals and once again heated up until it turns black. Then the morphine is filtered again to remove impurities once it cools down. Then sodium carbonate that has been dissolved in water is added to the morphine to create the base for heroin. This heroin base is them mixed with more chemical solutions, is filtered and then left to dry out. Then one final chemical solution is added, filtered and left to dry. The finished heroin product is then packaged either into bags or pressed into bricks of heroin to be transported to its destination and sold. Depending on the set up of the operation this would all be done on site where the poppy is grown or done in hidden laboratories.

Global Leaders In Cultivation of Opium Poppies

Opium poppies thrive best when growing in dry, warm climates around the globe, and are usually grown in remote mountain regions. The vast majority of illicit opium poppy is grown in either the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia which covers the mountainous area around Myanmar, Laos and Thailand or in the Golden Crescent which is located in the mountainous areas in the nations of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. India is also a major illicit poppy grower, though this is less surprising since it is located right in the middle of the Golden Crescent and the Golden Triangle. Illicit opium poppy being grown in the Americas is a more recent phenomenon, with Mexico and Colombia being the two major growers in the Americas. Regardless of where illicit opium poppy is grown around the world it is usually grown by poor, impoverished farmers on small plots of land.

Illicit Opium Poppy Trafficking Destinations

Mexico and Colombia, as the two main illicit opium poppy producers in the Americas, provide most of the heroin from opium poppy into the Americas. The Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia provides most of the heroin from opium poppy to the rest of Southeast Asia, East Asia and Oceania. The Golden Crescent in south central Asia provides the most heroin from illicit poppy because of Afghanistan to Africa, Europe and the rest of the Middle East. With modern transportation, illicit trade in opium and heroin has truly become global as it can be moved between countries and around the world within days or weeks.

Anti-Narcotics Measures

There are many anti-narcotics measures that can be, and have been, taken on both international and national levels to try and stop the spread of illicit opium poppies and opiates. The United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances in 1988 provided measures and cooperation that can be taken against illegal drugs. It is one of just many international efforts to prevent the spread of all illegal drugs. Another way to stop illicit opium poppy is to support democracy and human rights as countries that have both of these are more likely to be able to field effective preventive measures to stop the trade of drugs. Countries can also work jointly with the governments of the major illicit opium producing countries to crack down on drug making and trafficking organizations.

Top Opium Poppy Producing Countries

RankCountryLand Area Devoted To Cultivating Illicit Opium Poppies
1Afghanistan225,000 hectares
2Myanmar58,000 hectares
3Mexico15,000 hectares
4India12,250 hectares
5Laos6,200 hectares
6Pakistan2,300 hectares
7Colombia298 hectares
8Iran100 hectares

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