But areas where military operations are underway -- such as Marjah in Helmand province -- would not be targeted until the rebels had been pushed out and development programmes launched, said deputy interior minister Mohammad Daud Daud.
Eradication had begun in other parts of Helmand, scene of a major assault against militants who for years controlled Marjah
along with drug traffickers, Daud
Programmes had also begun in Nangarhar and Farah provinces, and would soon be launched in Kandahar, another militant hotspot and centre of poppy production, he
said 25 of Afghanistan's
34 provinces were free of poppy cultivation by last year.
said the eradication programme would take place in 18 provinces as "minor planting" had been reported in some.
said the campaign was in three stages -- public awareness, prevention of cultivation and, finally, eradication, with farmers offered help in planting alternative crops, including cereals.