ZHARAY DISTRICT, Afghanistan – The governor of Zharay district hosted a drug eradication event at a large marijuana field Sept. 5 and pledged his commitment to enforcing the Afghan government’s law on illegal drug possession and production.<br /> <br /> Niaz Sarhadi, governor of Zharay district in Kandahar province, ordered complete destruction of the 600 square meter marijuana field that was growing no farther than 100 meters from Highway 1 near Howz-E-Madad. A bulldozer and excavator crew destroyed the plants by uprooting and crushing them.<br /> <br /> Before the operation began, Sarhadi met with the landowner about the Afghan government’s drug eradication program and the district’s intent during the farming season. The program allows a farmer and landowner to stop growing illegal drugs, like opium and marijuana, and receive alternate seed for various crops and produce. During an interview with local Afghan media, the landowner said he understands the seriousness of growing marijuana and respects the resolve of the district government to enforce illegal drug production.<br /> <br /> Members of the district shura also attended, along with officials from the Provincial Ministry of Counter-narcotics. Near the end of the event, a large sign was erected at the entrance of the field saying, “This marijuana eradicated by [the government of Afghanistan].” Next to the sign were approximately 40 bags of wheat seed and fertilizer that Afghan officials urged the landowner to use, because wheat is easier to grow and requires less water.<br /> <br /> The marijuana eradication is part of a larger plan to seize illegal drugs and caches throughout Zharay and Maiwand districts. Afghan police officers man checkpoints along Highway 1 to confiscate drug finds and contraband found in vehicles. During the summer, the district heavily advertised the Afghan government’s intent to eradicate illegal narcotics, while giving farmers and landowners an opportunity to grow alternate crops as a livelihood for their families.