Posted in Afghanistan, agriculture, biofuel, opium by Deputy city editor on March 28, 2009


The versatile Papaver somniferum

The versatile Papaver somniferum

I have been telling you so for some time (ITYS passim) that poppy grown in Afghanistan should be purchased by NATO and converted into biofuel.   This would add up to a winning strategy in the otherwise endless Great Game, in my unhumble opinion.  Predicatably, few have listened.

My arguments are even stronger now than they were in 2007. Biofuel made from poppy would create a legal outlet for what the farmers already grow, so no more costly-daft-deadly attempts to make them grow cereals. Burn it in a bus and it is less pongy than chip-shop oil. It is green sustainable energy grown by renewable Afghan peasants. It ticks all the boxes. 

Poppy->fuel yield is not only respectable (119 US gallons per acre) but genetically modified poppy can be richer in energy conversion potential.

Poppy is a competitive and important fuel crop that can be put to use without necessitating the destruction of a single cubic centimeter of rain forest.  

We could not only allow the Afghans to grow poppy, but to grow more. And promise to buy all of it. This has to be cheaper than trying to destroy it.

 The GM super poppy is described here – an article that shows that great minds think alike. 

Superpoppy as a game-changer in the Hindu Kush must surely be less delusional than the recently attempted efforts in Afghanistan by NATO and the ISAF (I saw Americans fight). Indeed, it is an idea entirely consistent with the radical Obama concept that we should engage with the Taliban rather than shoot missiles at Pashtun wedding parties.  

Let the Taliban be famous throughout Central Asia for their delicately perfumed “Golden Brown” brand of diesel fuels. 

Biofuel yield of conventional somniferum compared with other crops is here

Indian scientists produce non-narcotic somniferum with excellent oil yield although they emphasise potential as food crop.


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