India may ban import of poppy seeds from Turkey

GK Nair

Farmers allege illicit produce from Pak-Afghan; Narcotics Bureau to look for proof

Kochi, November 14

The Central Bureau of Narcotics (CBN), under the Union Ministry of Finance, might impose a ban on the import of poppy seeds from Turkey if the allegations made by farmers/trade are found to be true.

Some of the farmers/traders have alleged that poppy seeds from Turkey are nothing but part of the illegal poppy crop of Pakistan/Afghanistan origin. The CBN, Gwalior, in a letter to the Department of Revenue in the Union Ministry of Finance, dated October 23 said it “does not have any inputs to either confirm or deny these allegations.”

However, it said that “if... factual report is obtained from RAW/IB/DRGI about truth of these allegations” and in case, they “are prima facie found to be correct, the Ministry may impose a ban on import of poppy seeds from Turkey,” the letter said.

According to a latest report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in 2016, the global area under opium-poppy cultivation rose 8 per cent to 304,800 hectares (ha), primarily reflecting an increase reported in the cultivation in Afghanistan that year (10 per cent). With 201,000 ha under opium-poppy cultivation, Afghanistan accounted for roughly two-thirds of the estimated global area under illicit cultivation in 2016.

Meanwhile, uncertainty still hovers over imports as “due to litigation, guidelines for the year 2017-18 are not yet issued by the Department of Revenue,” the CBN Gwalior sources said.

They said the country cap has not been fixed as earlier guidelines and the public notice have been challenged before the High Court. The trade community said shortage of poppy seeds in the domestic market due to continued suspension of imports from Turkey for over 10 months now has pushed up its prices.

Prices have shot up to ₹450-550 a kg depending upon the quality of the material, Dhirish Momaya, a Bengalaru-based importer, told BusinessLine.

Imports in 2016-17 stood at 18,010 tonnes valued at ₹295.15 crore against 24,075 tonnes valued at ₹268.48 crore in 2011-12, according to Spices Board sources.

India has been a net importer of the commodity for long, and it is imported under OGL (Open General Licence) based on permits issued by the CBN Gwalior.

Published on November 14, 2017


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