Northern Wa State 2004
During the preparations for a river expedition planned on the Burmese river Salween, we came across the following highly explosive subject: Upon official invitation of the ethnic minority of the Wa people we travelled the so-called „Special Region 2“, an autonomous territory inside Burma/Myanmar under the leadership of the Wa. A high percentage of the world`s opium is produced in this region.
As the political and economical situation is very complicated, our permission to enter had remained uncertain up to the very last moment. The Wa people depend on poppy cultivation and at present alternatives are little; furthermore many of them are addicted to the drug themselves. At the same time international pressure to completely stop poppy cultivation is constantly growing. The Wa now declared that they will ban opium and stop planting poppy by the end of June next year, which means that the harvest of February/March 2005 will be the last one.