Traditionally the majority of Afghans were employed in agriculture. Before the war it was estimated that 60-80% of all Afghans relied on farming and its support structure for survival. However, environmental damage during the war degraded much of the land and intensive replanting will be needed to bring it back to its previous condition. With virtually no infrastructure to transport crops from some of the remote regions, poor central government legal control and few processing plants, the easiest and most lucrative crop to grow and sell is currently opium.
The Hindu Kush is rich in precious and semi-precious stones, including lapis lazuli, beryllium and emerald. Coal, iron ore, salt and marble are also mined. Natural gas production was once an important export; pipelines are currently being reconstructed in order to revive what should be an important source of income for this landlocked country.
Textiles, especially cotton and wool, were previously the most developed manufacturing industry and the revival of handicrafts and tourism-related industries is expected in future to be a substantial part of the economy.
The second largest earner of foreign currency after opium is currently the illegal traffic in cultural objects, estimated by Interpol at $32 billion per year (IRIN - Asia Integrated Regional Information Network, 27 March 2003).