Afghanistan Opium Survey and Opium Risk Assessment

Fact Sheet
Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
May 6, 2013

The Afghanistan Opium Survey and Afghanistan Opium Risk Assessment (ORAS) are two distinct reports that aid the Afghan government in policy development and the U.S. Government and other donors in foreign assistance planning. Both reports are joint publications by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics. The United States, as well as a number of other international donors, provides funding for these important tools.

  • The 2012 UNODC Afghanistan Opium Survey, which covers the 2012 opium poppy crop, was published on May 6. This is a final report that builds on the 2012 UNODC Afghanistan Opium Survey Summary findings which were published on November 20, 2012. The UNODC Afghanistan Opium Survey is a comprehensive, quantitative estimate of actual poppy cultivation and opium production each year in Afghanistan based on an extensive and rigorous public methodology. It is completed after the end of the poppy harvest season and relies on satellite imagery analysis of the poppy crop during its peak growth period.
  • The 2013 Opium Risk Assessment (ORAS), which covers the 2013 opium poppy crop, was published on April 15, 2013. The ORAS is an informal, qualitative prediction of poppy cultivation trends over the upcoming year, based on interviews with village leaders during the planting season. Unlike the annual Opium Survey estimate, ORAS interviews are not cross-verified with satellite imagery as the opium poppy crop cannot be detected remotely until much later in the plant’s growth cycle. This report is meant to provide an early indication of broad cultivation trends in each province to help policymakers adjust delivery of counternarcotics and development assistance prior to the poppy harvest.
  • The U.S. Government also produces a quantitative estimate of opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan each year. The UNODC and U.S. surveys differ in methodology and their estimates do not always align, although trend lines are generally similar at the national level. The U.S. Government does not produce a qualitative forecast of cultivation trends similar to the Opium Risk Assessment (ORAS).