Yangon - Opium production in Laos, Myanmar and Thailand will reach an estimated 734 tonnes this year, up 15 per cent from 2011, the United Nations said Wednesday.
Myanmar's opium production will reach an estimated 690 tonnes this year, up 13 per cent from 610 tonnes in 2011, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) annual South-East Asia opium survey said.
Laos' opium production will soar 64 per cent to 41 tonnes this year, whereas Thailand's production will be 3 tons, the same as in 2011.
The tri-border area comprising north-east Myanmar, northern Thailand and north-western Laos was once known as the Golden Triangle, where opium production peaked at more than 1,600 tonnes in 1996. Afghanistan is now the world's main source of the drug.
South-East Asia experienced a dramatic decline in opium production between 1996 and 2006, chiefly on account of Myanmar's efforts to eradicate the drug in its north-eastern Shan State.
But regional cultivation has been creeping upwards since 2006, at least in Myanmar and Laos.
"Opium poppy cultivation in Myanmar increased from 21,600 hectares in 2006 to 51,000 hectares in 2012, while in the Lao People's Democratic Republic it increased from 1,500 hectares in 2007 to 6,300 hectares in 2012," the UNODC report said.//DPA