The deadly blooms of Helmand

Ghulam Hassan is in the mood to celebrate Eid, the biggest religious festival of the Afghan year, three months early. His one-and-a-half-acre farm in a small village in Helmand province has been blooming with white and crimson flowers. Now the petals are just beginning to drop, giving way to round, sticky, pungent green pods. In a few more days the pods will swell to the size of a bulb.

This is when Mr Hassan’s family of 14 will move in. They will carefully slice open the bulbs and collect the oozing white latex or resin – the main ingredient in heroin.

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