2008-06-25 12:58:16 GMT 2008-06-25 20:58:16 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English
KUNMING, June 25 (Xinhua) -- Poppy substitutes grown in the Golden Triangle with help from southwest China's Yunnan Province could reduce heroin production by 110 tons a year, according to the provincial public security bureau on Wednesday.
The bureau cited satellite remote-sensing data as showing that the Golden Triangle region's poppy cultivation area was 339,000 mu (25,600 hectares) this year, down from a record of about 1.38 million mu.
The bureau said 102 companies in Yunnan helped to grow 1.01 million mu of cash crops, such as grain, rubber, tea and sugar cane over the past three years in the Golden Triangle region, which encompasses the northern parts of Myanmar and Laos.
These companies made total investments of 411 million yuan (58 million U.S. dollars) in farming in the Golden Triangle last year.
Besides farm aid, China also offered a market for the farm produce. In 2007, China bought 41 tons of poppy substitutes from the Golden Triangle.
The imports, which were moved largely through the customs facility of Kunming, provincial capital of Yunnan, were exempted from customs duties worth 340 million yuan, said Zhong Hui, a customs official.
In 2007, China started providing subsidies to companies committed to growing poppy substitutes in the Golden Triangle. The state budget for the purpose totaled 29 million yuan last year. Yunnan added 15 million yuan in subsidies to encourage Chinese companies to build six agricultural demonstration zones in northern Myanmar last year.
The agricultural province of Yunnan, with a 4,060-km border with Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, has had a difficult battle with drug traffickers from the Golden Triangle.
Yunnan's anti-smuggling police seized 12.9 tons of heroin and 9.3 tons of "ice" from the Golden Triangle in the past three years, said Yang Fengrui, deputy secretary-general of the China National Narcotics Control Commission and director of the Bureau of Narcotics Control under the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing on Wednesday.
Yunnan has been hit with a devastating surge in heroin addiction and associated problems in recent years.
According to the provincial AIDS prevention and control bureau, Yunnan had recorded 56,054 HIV infections as of September 2007, a quarter of the national total. Most were drug users, according to the bureau.