Renewable energy has always been touted as a game changer for the entire world, One sector currently reaping the benefits of solar power is the heroin industry. Growing poppies is a very tough challenge, yet harnessing solar energy has proven to be a major boon.
Using Solar Energy for Poppies
It is a public secret that certain regions in Afghanistan are home to opium-growing efforts. This is only normal, as growing poppies can only be done in very specific conditions. Hardly any region in the world meets these criteria, making it a very tough business model to explore.
One region in Afghanistan, called Helmand, is home to the most prolific opium-growing fields in the entire world. Most of the opium harvested here will eventually be turned into heroin, and make its way to the rest of the world. Interestingly enough, this part of the country is also home to a bold renewable energy effort.
Although no one living or working in Helmand has time to waste on considering climate change, that doesn’t mean they are ignoring renewable energy. Solar panels have begun popping up in the region to harness the power of the sun. For the heroin industry, this is a very prominent development. Not only will it help scale up opium-growing efforts, but it will also cut down on overhead costs.
A Booming Industry
Based on satellite images by Alcis, changes in Helmand’s landscape become apparent. What one was a dry patch of land is now a farm surrounded by fields of poppies. More importantly, there are multiple solar panels popping up, all of which are designed to provide renewable solar energy to the growing operations.
Using solar energy plays a crucial role in the irrigation of poppy fields. Water has to be pumped up from below the service using electric machines. Rather than tapping into a power grid for this purpose, solar panels will allow these operations to become self-sustainable. Modernizing the farming of opium poppies is a very real trend, and one that shouldn’t be ignored.
There is another benefit to this approach. Not only will it help farmers grow opium poppies, but they can begin growing other things as well. Harvesting poppy in the first half of the year, and growing vegetables during the summer, is just one of the many options to explore. Combined with the reduction in diesel expenses, renewable energy is changing the entire game in Afghanistan.
Revitalizing Low-yield Fields
Last but not least, land that used to provide poor yields through traditional methods is now showing much better results. Using solar energy has allowed low-yield fields to evolve, primarily because there is a lot more irrigation going on. This will, in turn, bring more people to previously remote desert-like regions, and usher in a new era of growth.
Unfortunately, it will also increase the amount of drugs being produced. While the amount of illegal heroin and opium is increasing, prices tend to become more volatile. A lower price will make drugs more accessible, which is another crucial aspect to keep an eye on. It will be interesting to see what the future will hold in this particular regard.