From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not Much
Mains level : Opium cultivation
The Central government has decided to rope in the private sector to commence production of concentrated poppy straw from India’s opium crop.
What is the move?
- The move aims to boost the yield of alkaloids, used for medical purposes and exported to several countries.
- Among the few countries permitted to cultivate the opium poppy crop for export and extraction of alkaloids, India currently only extracts alkaloids from opium gum at facilities controlled by the Revenue Department.
- This entails farmers extracting gum by manually lancing the opium pods and selling the gum to government factories.
- The Ministry has now decided to switch to new technologies after trial cultivation reports submitted last year by two private firms showed higher extraction of alkaloids using the concentrated poppy straw (CPS).
- The milky fluid that seeps from cuts in the unripe poppy seed pod has, since ancient times, been scraped off and air-dried to produce what is known as opium.
- The seedpod is first incised with a multi-bladed tool.
- This lets the opium “gum” ooze out.
- The semi-dried “gum” is harvested with a curved spatula and then dried in open wooden boxes.
- The dried opium resin is placed in bags or rolled into balls for sale.
Why such a move?
- India’s opium crop acreage has been steadily declining over the years.
- The CPS extraction method is expected to help cut the occasional dependence on imports of products like codeine (extracted from opium) for medical uses.
Amendments to NDPS Act
- Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are the three traditionally opium-growing States, where poppy crop cultivation is allowed based on licences issued annually by the Central Bureau of Narcotics.
- While roping in private players in producing CPS and extracting alkaloids from it is likely to require amendments to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985.
- The Revenue Department has decided to appoint a consultant to help frame the bidding parameters and concession agreements for the same.