As a result of the new policy, 774 more farmers will get licence for cultivating opium poppy, benefiting 374 cultivators in Mandsaur, MP, Natarajan’s constituency. The rest of the farmers are mostly from Rajasthan’s Chittorgarh (Vyas’ constituency), according to the government data. In 2011-12, there were 48,863 licensed farmers. In 2012-13, the number fell to 46,821 as some farmers became ineligible due to non-compliance.
Though the beneficiaries are not high in number, it is the mood of opium growers that decides the fate of the candidates in the Vyas’s constituency. The finance ministry did not accept the proposal to bring down the MQY to 50 kg/hectare on the grounds that it will lead to increased diversion. According to narcotics bureau officials, an estimated 10 per cent is diverted into the black market by growers.
The relaxation raises several questions. The MQY has been reduced even though the average yield kg per hectare has been above 60 kg/hectare in the past eight years barring one. It was 65.060 kg/hectare during the crop year 2012-13, according to the data with the Central Bureau of Narcotics.
“Since there is not much demand, the relaxation is purely a political gimmick,” an official said.