USAID shared a picture on social media of an Afghan man who the agency says started his own pomegranate orchard — but Twitter users were quick to point out that the image appeared to show a field of poppies and not a crop of the ruby-red fruit.
In a post shared on Monday, the agency’s Afghan Twitter account said Rahmatullah, a farmer from the province of Kandahar, started his own pomegranate orchard with USAID’s help.
Some Twitter users noted that the pink flowers shared in the post looked remarkably similar to opium poppies, which can be used to make heroin.
The development agency has been helping farmers in the war-torn country transition away from the illicit plant to legal crops like pomegranate — which has seen a spike in demand in recent years due to its health benefits.
In an expanded post on Facebook the agency clarifies that Rahmatullah “eradicated the poppy on his land to grow pomegranates” USAID writes. “Rahmatullah is only one of many farmers choosing to establish pomegranate orchards over growing poppy after receiving help from USAID’s Kandahar Food Zone program. The orchards will help farmers to earn a safe, secure income for their families while reinvigorating the country’s reputation for producing some of the best pomegranates in the world.”
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