A combination of the pandemic and the aftermath of the coup hammered Myanmar’s economy with an 18 per cent contraction in 2021, according to the World Bank.

Around 40 per cent of the population was living in poverty in 2022, and Douglas said financial hardship had forced many labourers to leave urban areas to work in poppy cultivation in the countryside.

Farmers need outside support to boost their livelihoods growing other crops to compete with the opium economy, UNODC Myanmar country manager Benedikt Hofmann said.

“Opium cultivation is really about economics, and it cannot be resolved by destroying crops which only escalates vulnerabilities,” he said.

The report cited figures from Myanmar’s Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control stating 1,403 hectares of opium poppies had been eradicated by the end of last year — a 70 per cent decline on the previous year.

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