From the UN: "Last year Afghanistan produced its highest amount of opium since 1999 – an estimated 3,600 tons, or more than three-quarters of the global supply – and the country is poised to exceed that amount this year, according to the results of a United Nations survey released today. "Two farmers out of three interviewed … stated they intended to increase significantly their opium poppy cultivation in 2004," the Vienna-based UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says in its Afghanistan Farmers' Intention Survey 2003/2004. UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa blamed poor social conditions in the country for the spiking drug cultivation. "Persistent poverty, high opium prices and loans from traffickers are the main reasons for the higher opium production expected in 2004," he said. According to the report, farmers were clearly aware of the government ban on opium production, but the short-term benefits of the activity continued to outweigh the potential risks of breaking the law. Overall, a quarter of Afghan farmers engaged in opium poppy cultivation in 2003. Opium plantations covered 27 per cent of the land they cultivated, but produced more than 60 per cent of their annual income, the survey found. Poppy seeds are easy to obtain, either from the previous harvest or the local markets. "The results of this survey impart the unequivocal warning that illegal opium production will continue to thrive unless resolute actions are taken: economic assistance for farmers, eradication of opium fields and interdiction of traffickers," Mr. Costa stressed. "The formidable threat which the opium economy poses to peace, stability and socio-economic recovery in Afghanistan will otherwise continue to increase."