India, Turkey sign deal to expand poppy seeds trade

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved a preliminary agreement between with Turkey to ensure quick and transparent processing for import on poppy seeds

May 23, 2018

The new agreement will resume poppy seeds trade with Turkey which was suspended for more than a year owing to litigation challenging the legality of the supply

It has been alleged by Indian farmers and traders that poppy seeds imported from Turkey were actually being sourced from illegal fields of Pakistan and Afghanistan

The agreement will curb illegal trade as well as manage price rise and hoarding of poppy seeds through a mechanism that will track real time data related to poppy seeds

According to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, poppy seeds import from Turkey rose by nearly 60 per cent to 29,500 tonnes during 2016-17 from the previous year

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved a preliminary agreement with Turkey to ensure quick and transparent processing for import of poppy seeds. The agreement will resume poppy seeds trade with Turkey which was suspended for more than a year owing to litigations challenging the legality of the supply. The chunk of poppy seeds used as condiment comes from opium poppy, which is also the source for production of banned narcotics. Last year it was alleged by Indian farmers and traders that poppy seeds imported from Turkey were actually being sourced from illegal poppy fields of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The resultant restriction led to a sharp spike in poppy seed prices across India, which will now be eased with resumption of import from Turkey. This has been made possible through cooperation between the Governments of the two countries.

The latest agreement will help curb illegal trade as well as manage price rise and hoarding of poppy seeds through an alternative mechanism that will track real time data related to poppy seeds cultivation to import. This will ensure that the quantity of poppy seeds imported from Turkey is genuine and legally produced within the country. Under the system, the Turkish Grain Board (TMO) will maintain an online platform to enable regulation of export of poppy seeds from Turkey to India. Herein, exporting companies will submit application through the Aegean Exporters’ Association (EIB) to TMO for obtaining membership of the online portal. The annual volume and pricing of poppy seeds trade will be jointly decided by the Governments of India and Turkey, factoring in seasonal production, surplus output from previous seasons, Turkey’s domestic consumption and other supply commitments.

On the Indian side, the Central Bureau of Narcotics (CBN) will monitor the supply. TMO and CBN, together, will closely follow poppy seeds trade between the nations, from production to sales. The sale prices and volumes will be subject to periodic changes depending on relevant factors. The agreement will promote quick and transparent processing of quota allocation and prior authorization for poppy seeds import from Turkey. In this way genuineness of import contract can be easily ensured as well as many litigation matter resulting in delay in the import can be avoided. Poppy seed import from Turkey has helped considerably reduce prices of the product in Indian market. According to data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, more than 18,600 tonnes of poppy seed was imported from Turkey during 2015-16. This jumped by nearly 60 per cent to 29,500 tonnes during 2016-17.

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