BUSINESS

Government trying to increase domestic opium production

The Government is looking to increase the country’s opium production in the cultivation year 2015-16, it announced on Monday. India is the only country legally allowed to produce gum opium.

“The Central Government…has notified the general conditions for grant of license for cultivation of opium poppy on account of the Central Government during the opium crop year commencing on the October 1, 2015 and ending with September 30, 2016,” the government notification said.

Under the proposed policy, the average yield of opium cultivators has been fixed at 56 kg per hectare in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, and not less than 52 kg per hectare in Uttar Pradesh. These are the only three states allowed to grow opium in the country.

While these limits are the same as last year, the government is looking to expand the area under cultivation by rewarding cultivators who did well the previous year. Under this year’s notification, all eligible cultivators will be issued a licence for 10 acres.

However, cultivators whose yield last year was 58 kg per hectare and above will get a licence for 15 acres, those with average yields of 60 kg per hectare and above will get 20 acres and those with 65 kg per hectare and above will be able to grow opium over 25 acres.

This is more generous that last year, when the government only rewarded those cultivators, who achieved a yield of 65 kg per hectare in the previous year by allowing them to grow opium in 20 acres.

In addition, the government is considering issuing more licences to farmers this year than in the past “in light of proposed augmentation of capacity of the Government Opium and Alkaloid Works,” the government release said.

“The increase in requirement this year could be for several reasons. It could be that the buffer stock used for medical treatment has depleted due to higher demand, or because more was exported last year,” T.K. Satpathy, Under Secretary, Department of Revenue told The Hindu .

“India is one of the few countries that legally grow opium poppy and the only country which legally produces opium gum. Opium poppy plant is the source of opium gum, which contains several indispensable alkaloids such as morphine, codeine and thebaine. Morphine is the best analgesic in the world…Codeine is commonly used in the manufacture of cough syrups,” the Department of Revenue website says on the licensed cultivation of opium.

The conditions under which a cultivator can grow opium in the country are very strictly defined.

A government notification lays out the exact tracts of land that can be used to grow opium in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

The licencing policy allows cultivators to overshoot their actual area under cultivation by only up to 5 per cent, failing which their licence will not be renewed the next year.



The increase in requirement this year could be for several reasons. It could be that the buffer stock used for medical treatment has depleted due to higher demand, or because more was exported last year.

T. K. SATPATHY,UNDER SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE



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