The cultivation of mulberry and silkworm farming for the production of silk are valid substitutes in the fight against opium cultivation

A model case in Myanmar (Burma)

A piece of news appeared on Reuters website a few days ago and soon hit the leading global media (NYTimes….), regarding populations in Myanmar (Burma) who, with the help of UN agencies, are successfully switching from growing opium poppies, for the production of drugs such as heroin and morphine, to the cultivation of mulberry and silkworm farming for the production of silk.

silk cocoons for reconversion oppium plantationsThe place where this is happening is Tangyan in the north eastern part of Myanmar (Burma), a few kilometres from the Chinese border (province of Yunnan). Here, in 2014, over 41,000 hectares of poppy were still planted for the production of opium for heroin. (UNODC Data).

  • Quicker profits given that silkworm farming guarantees a yearly double harvest;
  • The cultivation of mulberry and silkworm farming adapts well to production often featuring families living in rural areas;
  • The price drop of opium due to increased production in Afghanistan;
  • The rise of synthetic drugs.

These are the main reasons, which after years of failure, have allowed the programme of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to enjoy initial success: an ever greater number of families are joining the transformation programmes, over 1,000 farmers and 1,800 families have switched from opium plantations to cultivations of mulberry and to silkworm farming.

silk cocoons to decline opium productionUNODC states that this reconversion, based on true economic convenience, thanks to the support of Chinese sericulturalists, will lead to remarkable changes from an agricultural viewpoint with improved local conditions, but also and especially from a social viewpoint, with less crime associated with poppy cultivation – as already quite evident today – and with a decline in the production of opium.

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