A vast field of towering white poppies sways gently in the breeze, silky petals sometimes tumbling to the ground, a visible marker of the resilience of Afghanistan’s lucrative opium trade.
The sight of a seemingly endless expanse of opium-producing flowers is common across rural Afghanistan, but this farm is in the centre of government-controlled Lashkar Gah city -- the capital of Helmand province.
In a field AFP visited this month, workers were scoring grooves into the plants’ bulbous seed pods from which the raw, milky-white opium oozes.
“We know it is harmful but we have no other way to earn money, this is the only income for us,” labourer Mohammad Ghous told AFP.
Afghanistan is the world’s top grower of opium, and the crop accounts for hundreds of thousands of jobs.