KABUL (AFP) - As the UN complains about Western inaction to stem a booming drugs trade, experts believe efforts to end opium production in Afghanistan, the worlds biggest producer, are inadequate and misguided. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said Afghanistan produces 92 percent of the worlds opium in a trade worth 65 billion dollars, feeding 15 million heroin addicts around the world. The illicit trade is also fuelling the Taliban insurgency, with the militants controlling production and supply, and using the profits to increase their attacks on the 100,000-strong US and NATO presence in Afghanistan. But there are indications that efforts to cut the illegal cultivation and trade have been hampered by the failure of previous policies, particularly the widespread razing of poppy fields. Earlier this year Richard Holbrooke, Washingtons special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, called the policy the least effective programme ever, as it pushed poor farmers to the Taliban by destroying a key cash crop. The highest-ranking US military officer, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Admiral Michael Mullen, also said that NATO had almost no success in the last seven or eight years in trying to stem the opium trade. Western-backed alternative development programmes are being carried out, particularly in the south the Talibans spiritual heartland and the area where most opium is produced to encourage local farmers to grow other crops. USAID and Britains Department for International Development (DFID), among others, are providing 32,000 farmers with wheat seeds and fertiliser, to secure food supplies amid rising prices and uncertainties about yields. The US organisation accepts that complete eradication (of the poppy crop) may be a long way away but insists it has support among farmers in the south. UNODC said last month that inroads had been made, with opium production down for the second year in succession, although concerns remained about rising levels of stockpiles. Elsewhere, efforts are concentrated on building markets and the capacity of Afghanistans fractured agricultural sector, which employs 80 percent of Afghans and is responsible for 30 percent of the countrys GDP. Improving security and the countrys infrastructure, as well as the ability of government agencies to implement agricultural programmes, would help boost conventional farming, experts told AFP. But the main dilemma in tackling illicit crop production is whether to look for a quick impact to improve the income of the farmers or longer-term strategies, said Andres Judeh, a USAID contractor. Longer-term projects often take up to five years to get any return, added Judeh, director of the Accelerating Sustainable Agriculture Programme. The UNODC report suggests that Afghan farmers under pressure from the Taliban are not prepared to wait, because of the lucrative gains to be made. Vast amounts of opium and heroin are still regularly seized in joint operations between foreign forces and Afghan troops. Earlier this year, they made their biggest-ever haul 92 tonnes while 50 tonnes of opium and 1.8 tonnes of heroin were found along with a huge cache of weapons last month. Yet Judeh and others believe that agriculture can be a viable industry for Afghanistan, which has been labelled a narco-state by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton because of drug-linked corruption among government officials. Theres huge potential, said Judeh, with a domestic market of about 32 million people and a possible export market of three billion people in surrounding countries like China, Pakistan, India and Iran. Farmers need to look at the market and see whether there is demand in the market and try to be market-orientated in terms of production and sell what the market wants and not sell what the farmer necessarily can produce, he said.