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November 20, 2023 @ 7:30 am - 11:30 pm


Opium cultivation in India, a critical component of the agricultural landscape, has taken an uncertain turn with the Union government’s decision to involve private players in production and processing. This shift, particularly impacting farmers in the Mewar region, has added complexity to existing challenges, including stagnant procurement rates and rising input costs. A closer examination reveals the multifaceted dimensions of opium cultivation, its uses, geographic distribution, and the implications of recent policy changes.

Uses of Opium Crop:

Diverse Narcotic Raw Materials: Opium poppy yields two key narcotic raw materials: opium gum (latex) and concentrate of poppy straw (CPS).

Medicinal Applications: Opium, rich in morphine, serves as an analgesic, relieving chronic pain.

Additionally, it is cultivated for edible seeds, seed oil, and the production of opioids, including heroin.

Geographic Distribution:

Licensed Cultivation:

  • Approximately 1 lakh farmers in 22 districts of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh hold licenses for opium cultivation.

Dominant Districts:

  • Three border districts—Mandsaur, Neemuch, and Chittorgarh—contribute significantly, constituting 80% of India’s opium production.
  • Opium cultivation is deeply ingrained as “swabhiman ki kheti” (agriculture of dignity) in the historical Mewar region.

Issues with Opium Cultivation:

Stagnant Procurement Rates: Opium farmers grapple with persistently stagnant procurement rates, impacting their economic viability.

Rising Input Costs: Escalating prices of fertilizers, labor, and pesticides escalate the overall input cost for opium cultivation.

Risk of Crop Theft: The constant threat of crop theft adds to the challenges faced by opium farmers, necessitating perpetual vigilance.

High Regulation: Due to its addictive nature, opium production is subject to stringent regulations in India.

Competition from Private Players: The discontent among farmers stems from the government’s decision to open opium production to private players in 2021.

Change in Opium Policy (2021-22):

Government’s Perspective:

Boost in Alkaloid Yield: The introduction of private players aims to enhance alkaloid yield through the CPS method, involving multiple washings of poppy straw.

Export Competitiveness: To regain global market share, aligning with other countries adopting CPS for opium production.

Drug Law Enforcement: Improving drug law enforcement by reducing the illicit market for opium gum.

Price Competitiveness: CPS is less labor-intensive, offering potential cost reductions in opium production.

Issues with CPS System and Private Players:

National Security Concerns: Farmers express apprehensions that private companies could pose a threat to national security by providing access to alkaloids for the drug mafia.

Impact on Medicine Costs: Handing opium production to private entities may lead to increased costs for life-saving medicines, affecting economically disadvantaged patients.

Transparency Allegations: Farmers allege a lack of transparency in the CPS mechanism, questioning the fairness of the system.

Consultation Absence: The introduction of the scheme during the lockdown without prior consultations with farmers adds to their discontent.

Potential Rise in Illegal Activities: Farmer leaders foresee an increase in illegal activities, such as smuggling, as a consequence of private players entering the opium cultivation sector.


The uncertain trajectory of opium cultivation in India, particularly in the Mewar region, underscores the intricate balance needed between economic considerations, regulatory frameworks, and the welfare of farmers. As the sector navigates these challenges, policy adjustments and transparent communication channels are imperative for a sustainable and equitable future for opium cultivation in the country.


November 20, 2023
7:30 am - 11:30 pm
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