Turkey top opium producer

Turkey top opium producer

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey top opium producer

This file photo shows an opium field in Turkey. Poppy farms in Turkey make up 54 percent of the total world area that is legally cultivated. Hürriyet photo

Turkey has the largest share of the opium poppy cultivation among the six countries in the world that legally produce the notorious plant under the supervision of the United Nations.

However, India produces the majority of the opium utilized by the world’s pharmaceutical industries to produce codeine, morphine, narcotine, thebaine, papaverine, and other medical products.

Turkey’s opium poppy farms make up 54 percent of the total opium areas in the world, according to the average of the last five years’ data from the Turkish Grain Board (TMO), Anatolia news agency reported yesterday.

The other legal cultivators of opium poppy are India, Australia, France, Spain, and Hungary. Turkey and India are particularly recognized as traditional cultivators of poppy.

Nearly 70,000 Turkish farmers in 13 provinces are allowed to plant opium poppy and produce unscratched opium poppy capsules in a 700 million square meter area, a limit set by the United Nations.

The global consumption of opiate, which is a chemical found naturally in the opium poppy plant and has uses for medical and scientific purposes, is nearly 350 tons per year. The largest importer of this substance, the United States, supplies 80 percent of its imports from Turkey and India.

World’s largest plant

The Afyon Alkaloids Plant is the largest facility of its kind, with 20,000 tons of unscratched opium poppy capsule processing capacity. Some 95 percent of its production is sold abroad.

Turkey has the potential to meet nearly 30 percent of the global legal drug consumption. The country currently realizes 25,000 tons of poppy seed production of the 40,000 tons of total potential.

Accordingly, the country is working to develop highly nutritious and efficient poppy varieties. Opium poppy production was a subject of political tension between Turkey and the United States through the last century. The Ottoman Empire and its successor Turkey limited opium poppy plantation in 1912, 1925, and 1931. The most recent political friction between the two countries due to Turkey’s poppy cultivation came in the 1970s.