Local poppy farmers harvest the opium sap from the bulb of the plant during a ten-day harvesting period May 31, 2011 in Fayzabad, Badakhshan, Afghanistan. - 

Opium poppy cultivation has hit a record high in Afghanistan, the United Nations reported today. The area where the deadly cash crop is produced grew to 516,000 acres.

The BBC’s David Loyn says international aid money inadvertently ends up fueling the opium industry, which is believed to represent a quarter to a third of the entire Afghan economy. For reference, opium represents about 2 percent of Colombia’s economy.  

“It’s a pretty big failure for the international community if stopping Afghan opium was one of the reasons for coming to this country,” Loyn says.