India’s experiences in licensing poppy cultivation for the production of essential medicines
Lessons for Afghanistan by Romesh Bhattacharji, former narcotics commissioner of India
Important lessons from the experiences of Indian farmers, administrators and security
experts could inform the implementation of a Poppy for Medicine project in Afghanistan.
The role played by the Indian farming villages, and in particular the role played by the
village headman, in controlling poppy cultivation and limiting diversion in licensed
poppy cultivation projects has empowered a variety of stakeholders. This lesson is
particularly relevant with regards to the social control hierarchies present in Afghan rural
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Political history of the poppy licensing in Turkey.
The Senlis Council
Turkey’s successful transition from a culture of widespread, unregulated poppy
cultivation to a licensed, controlled system of poppy cultivation for the production of
medicines provides an interesting model for Afghanistan.
Analogous to the current situation in
Afghanistan, in the 1960s Turkey was one of the world’s main opium producing countries.
After several years of tense negotiations, political pragmatism prevailed, resulting in
Turkey switching from unregulated crop growing to licensed poppy cultivation for the
production of medicines. The Turkish political dynamic was such that poppy farmers’
interests were key to the stability of the country. When Turkey deemed total eradication
both technically and socially impracticable, the US and the Turkish Governments worked
together to implement a poppy licensing system for the production of opium-based
medicines, as an alternative means of bringing poppy cultivation under control. Turkey
was then able to resume poppy cultivation, under a strict licensing system supported by
the United Nations and a preferential trade agreement with the US.
Full report (260 Ko, pdf)