Maximum farmers to get opium production license in 2023-24

Around 112,000 farmers are looking ahead to receive licenses for poppy cultivation in the 2023-24 crop year as part of the new licensing policy, as the finance ministry said on Thursday. Poppy cultivation is strictly regulated and licenses are granted by the government every year for producing the key raw material for pharmaceuticals. Poppy is majorly grown in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and some parts of Uttar Pradesh. The ministry announced that 27,000 more farmers are expected to get licenses in the 2023-24 crop year.

Opium cultivators who would be eligible for getting licenses are nearly 54,500 from Madhya Pradesh, 47,000 from Rajasthan and 10,500 from Uttar Pradesh. This is almost equal to 2.5 times the average number of farmers who were given licenses during the five-year period ending 2014-15.

This increase is with the objective to meet the increasing demand for pharmaceutical preparations for palliative care and other medical purposes, both domestically and internationally. It would further benefit the production of alkaloid (organic compound from the plant) to meet domestic demand as well as the requirement of Indian export.

The central government is constantly working on increasing the demand and processing capacity within the country. With an increase in requirement and processing capacity, it is expected that the number of farmers given licenses for cultivation of opium poppy shall increase to 1.45 lakh in the coming three years.

The system of licensing for unbalanced poppy was started in a modest way from 2020-21 and has been expanded since then. The Central Government has augmented the capacity of its own alkaloid factories. It is moving for adoption of good management practices in these factories and has already worked with the private sector for processing of opium gum as well as poppy straw to increase opium processing capacity in India. The government has plans to further significantly expand the licensing for unlanced poppy. This will enable India to not only meet its domestic demand but also export alkaloid-based preparations and alkaloid.

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