Turkey's last legal opium harvest began in the middle of June. From next year, all?
Turkey's last legal opium harvest began in the middle of June. From next year, all Turkish farmers will be forbidden to grow the beautiful poppies from which opium and, ultimately heroin, comes.
The idea is to cut the flow of heroin to cities, mainly in the United States. Using part of a 35-million dollar grant from the Untied State,s the Turkish government will subsidise each farmer for three years. But the farmers are already complaining that is not long enough.
The payment will be based on how many pounds of raw opium gum each farmer sold to the government in the past year. He will get 17 dollars a pound.
Opium farmers are supposed to sell all their crop to the government so that it can be made into morphine for medical use. But in the past, some have found they could get a much better price from the smugglers, who convert the opium into heroin and ship much of it to the United States.
This year, for the first time, government inspectors have been measuring the crops, trying to stop the black market. This film is from NBC.
SYNOPSIS: Turkey's last legal opium harvest began in mid-June.
The opium poppy is beautiful and valuable; but opium can also be made into heroin. So, from next year, Turkish farmers will be forbidden to grow these poppies.
The mature poppy's pod is cut open to allow the opium inside to ooze out. The sap quickly dries into a caramel coloured gum, which can be refined into morphine and then into heroin. It takes one acre of poppies to produce fifteen pounds of gum -- enough for about a pound-and-a-half of pure heroin.
The farmers are supposed to sell all their opium gum to the Turkish government, so it can be made into morphine for medical use. But they can get double the price from smugglers who are more interested in making it into heroin to supply addicts. This year, government inspectors are measuring the poppy fields in an effort to stop farmers selling some of it on the black market.
Some farmers have already given up growing the opium poppy. An acre of poppies might have been worth 300 dollars on the black market...a lot of money to a man who earns perhaps 700 dollars a year.
In fact, farmers will be paid not to grow them -- like this man, from a province where poppy crops are already forbidden.
Using part of a 35-million dollar grant from the Untied states, the government will pay each farmer on the basis of how many pounds of gum he sold in the past year. He will get 17 dollars a pound.
The money is supposed to cover the value of his crop at the legal price, the value of the poppy seed he makes into cooking oil, and for the poppy stock he foods to his cattle.
But the farmers are not happy with the situation. The subsidy will last for three years only, and some farmers think it is too small. And they are wondering what they can grow in place of opium.
The Turkish government can kept its farmers from growing opium poppies legally, but this action alone is not likely to cut off the flow of heroin altogether -- for too many other countries are continuing to harvest their annual poppy crops.