The Daily Star, 21 May 2016 - NAQIL, Afghanistan (AFP) - Lashes swished and whirled through the air in a burst of celebration around a sea of opium poppies, as farmers in a southern Afghan village rejoiced over a bumper harvest with a traditional rope game. Hundreds of farm laborers from across the Pashtun heartland, many of them Taliban, congregated last month in Naqil in Uruzgan province for the most lucrative time of the year - the poppy harvest.
New York Times, 04 May 2016 - KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - It is spring that determines how a year turns out, according to an Afghan proverb. And if the Helmand poppy fields this spring are any indication, the Taliban will have a very good year. As the opium harvest winds down across Helmand Province, Afghanistan's largest in territory and poppy cultivation, farmers and officials are reporting high yields. The skies were generous with heavy rainfall, and the Afghan government with its cancellation of annual eradication campaigns. It had lost much of the territory in Helmand to the Taliban anyway.
New York Times, 07 Apr 2016 - LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan - Afghans have an expression: "Well, whatever has happened, we are still skinny." In other words, they have not gotten rich yet, try as they might. It is an expression heard often here in Helmand Province, the southwestern region that is the world capital of opium and heroin production. Afghanistan accounts for 90 percent of the world's heroin; more than two-thirds of that comes from Helmand's opium poppies, according to United Nations figures.