The Taliban announced on Sunday a ban on drug cultivation in Afghanistan, the world's largest producer of opium.
"In accordance with the orders of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, all Afghans are now informed that poppy cultivation is strictly prohibited throughout the country," said the Supreme Leader Haibatullah Akhundzada.
"If someone violates the law, the crops will be destroyed immediately and the violators will be treated according to Sharia law," read an order issued at a press conference by the Ministry of Interior of Kabul.
The order also banned the manufacture, use and transportation of other narcotics
Drug control was one of the main demands of the international Taliban community, which took control of the country in August and is seeking official international recognition to lift sanctions that severely hamper banking, business and development.
Experts say the Taliban banned the cultivation of opium at the end of its last rule in 2000 as it sought international legitimacy, but met with popular backlash and then mostly change stance.
Opium production in Afghanistan, estimated by the United Nations at $1.4 billion at its peak in 2017, has increased in recent months, farmers and Taliban members told Reuters.
The dire economic situation in the country has prompted people in the southeastern provinces to grow illegal crops that can yield faster and higher profits than legal crops such as wheat.
Taliban sources told Reuters they expected strong resistance from some elements of the group against the ban on opium cultivation and that the number of poppy farmers has increased in recent months .
Helmand farmers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the price of poppies has already more than doubled in recent weeks, with rumors that the Taliban will ban cultivation. But he added that he needed to raise poppies to feed his family.
"Other crops do not make a profit," he said.