Skip to comments.Poppies Replace Tourists in Egypt
Posted on 04/27/2014 1:27:38 PM PDT by mgist
Mohamed and his companions are nervous. The poppy field they have tended for the past six months is almost ready for harvesting, the small, bright flowers waving in the breeze. Inside the plant's pod is a sticky-white substance: raw opium. When harvested it will net each of them $2,850.
Poppy cultivation takes off
Opium has been consumed in Egypt since antiquity, but the growing of poppies is a recent development.
Joseph Hobbs, a professor of geography at the University of Missouri and the author of the only scholarly work on the Sinai's opium culture, says that poppy cultivation there began in the early 1990s. Until then, opium had been smuggled from Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, before the Syrian Army then occupying Lebanon began cracking down on poppy farmers in Bekaa.
The Sinai Peninsula had the right climate and terrain: soil that doesn't become waterlogged, and mountains to shield the fields from the wind. It also offered the protection of lawlessness. In his 2010 study, "Troubling Fields," Hobbs estimated that the Sinai at that time contained 476 poppy fields.
Since then, growing opium has become virtually risk-free. Egypt's 2011 revolution chased police off the streets, creating a security vacuum in which drug seizures mostly hashish and heroin smuggled in via the Sinai Peninsula dropped to almost nothing.
(Excerpt) Read more at csmonitor.com ...
In Egypt’s fields the poppies blow
Between the pyramids, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the calls to Muslim prayers below.
Nothing personal—strictly business.
Opium would be a low-profit crop if it weren’t illegal.