The decision of the Central Bureau of Narcotics (CBN) to import 18,558 tonnes of poppy seeds (posta dana) from Turkey has come as a double whammy for farmers of Neemuch-Mandsaur belt, who are already reeling under ill-effects of demonetisation.
The narcotics department has invited tenders on December 12 for sale of Turkish posta dana, and a trader can purchase up to 90 metric tonnes of them. For this, a security deposit of Rs 1,000, along with the tender document, has to be submitted to the narcotics department between December 14 and December 21. The contract will be valid for four months.
Kisan Congress leader Om Diwan said that many farmers of Neemuch-Mandsaur region have poppy seeds with them, but they have been unable to sell them for the past one month due to the demonetisation and lack of cash among the traders.
“On top of this, the decision to import poppy seeds from Turkey will act as a further dampener because Turkish poppy seeds are much cheaper than the Indian ones. While Indian poppy seeds sell at around Rs 400-Rs 500 per kg, the price of Turkish poppy seeds are around Rs 300 to Rs 325 per kg. Given the difference in price, who will buy the Indian variety?” Om Diwan asked.
Official sources, requesting anonymity, said that poppy seeds from Turkey are not exactly grown there, but from the North-West Frontier Province in Pakistan, where opium is grown illegally. “It is for this reason that those poppy seeds are sold so cheaply,” a source said.
When a reaction was sought, local MP Sudhir Gupta said that he is aware of the decision to import poppy seeds from Turkey. “According to my information, the cap on import of poppy seeds has not been lifted totally. Only a small amount is being imported and the interest of the local farmers won’t be affected,” Gupta said.