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 1st day of October, 2015 and ending with the 30th day of September, 2016.
Under the proposed policy, the average yield of opium Cultivators who had cultivated opium poppy during the crop year 2014-15 has been fixed at 56 kg/hectare for cultivators in the States of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and an average yield of opium of not less than 52 kg/hectare in the State of Uttar Pradesh.
The Central Government would consider issue of more licenses to farmers this year with good performance in the past for cultivation of opium poppy in the future, in light of proposed augmentation of capacity of the Government Opium and Alkaloid Works, adequate demand of opium for domestic and export purposes, provided the concerned farmers have satisfied Minimum Qualifying Yield (MQY) and other conditions of the licensing policy of the relevant year.
“Such licenses, as and when issued, would be through an objective and transparent policy keeping in mind the interests of all the stakeholders. The policy would endeavor giving priority to traditional cultivators who have been earlier granted licenses for cultivation of opium poppy,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement issued today. .
India is one of the few countries that legally grow opium poppy and the only country which legally produces opium gum. Opium poppy (Papaver somniferous) 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. In case of extreme and excruciating pain such as that of terminally ill cancer patients, nothing alleviates the suffering except morphine. Codeine is commonly used in manufacture of cough syrups.
The Government of India notifies the tracts where opium cultivation can be licensed as well as the General Conditions for issuance of license every year. These notifications are commonly referred to as Opium Policies. Opium cultivation is permitted in the notified tracts in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The General Conditions, among others, include a MQY to be tendered by the cultivators of each of these three states, to be eligible for license in the succeeding year.
The Central Bureau of Narcotics (CBN), Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh) under the Narcotics Commissioner issues licenses to the farmers to cultivate opium poppy. Each field of every cultivator is individually measured by officers of the CBN to ensure that they do not exceed the licensed area. The cultivators are required to tender their entire opium produced to the CBN and they are paid a price at the rates decided by the Government. The CBN sets up weighment centres during the harvest season and the cultivators bring their opium to these centres and tender the opium to the CBN.