|The situation is particularly bad in Ta Tong Commune, Muong Te District, which is mainly inhabited by the Ha Nhi ethnic group. — Photo Minh Duc
LAI CHAU (VNS) — Opium poppy fields are still growing in the northern mountainous province of Lai Chau, despite efforts to eradicate them by local authorities.
The situation is particularly bad in Ta Tong Commune, Muong Te District, which is mainly inhabited by the Ha Nhi ethnic group.
Chairman of the commune's People's Committee Sung A Chu said that the area of poppy plantations had fallen, but locals continued to cultivate them.
Local authorities held campaigns to eradicate opium poppy fields twice a year, but local people still found ways to grow them illegally, he said.
In March this year, local authorities destroyed 55,000sq.m of poppy fields in the commune.
However, it was difficult to completely deal eradicate the problem, he said.
"Opium poppies are often planted in remote areas. There are fields that take two days to reach through the forests, and it was difficult to establish who was growing them" he said.
A lack of regulations to punish opium poppy growers was another challenge, he added.
The expansion of poppy fields has led to a high rate of drug addiction in the commune.
"Local authorities held detox programmes for drug addicts but they often relapse when they return home," Chu said.
In order to completely eradicate opium poppy fields in the commune, local authorities plan to help local residents to improve production by introducing high-yield rice varieties and rubber plantations which can thrive in the commune's climate. — VNS