Floriculture replacing opium cultivation in Jharkhand

December 16th, 2008 - 3:30 pm ICT by ANI  

Hazaribagh (Jharkhand), Dec.16 (ANI): Farmers in Jharkhand, who used to nurture plants of poppy seeds for opium, are now shifting to floriculture and enjoying higher profits.
The anti-narcotic agencies found out that hundreds of villages such as Irkhori, Simaria, Barkagaon, Gidhaur and Pathalgarh areas in Hazaribagh and Chatra Districts were used for opium cultivation.
But today the lands that used to be sort of poppy seed plantations, present a colourful look with plants of blooming flowers.
According to police, earlier the farmers were taking more interest in opium cultivation than any of conventional crops like rice or wheat, as they found it
more profitable. With higher earnings, these farmers used to oblige the extortion demands of the Naxalites operating in the region. Hazaribagh is known to be among the strongholds of Maoists.
“Till recently, people were caught growing opium. They had shifted from growing rice and wheat. Later, experts had come to these villages to tell the
cultivators that it is a serious crime and that they can face dire consequences,” said Gariban Paswan, Daroga (Inspector of Police), Police Station,
Barkagaon village.
Mahendra Sahu, a farmer in Chatra District, readily heeded to the wise counsels and decided to stop growing opium. Now he has developed interest in
floriculture, which he says has given him better benefits than opium. Besides, he no more has to live with the fear of being into an illegal farming
Mahendra has set up his own club, which encourages floriculture and believes that over 50 acres of land will be converted from opium to floriculture in a
“I have stopped cultivating opium and shifted to floriculture. I believe by next year we can do over 50 acres of floriculture and hopefully opium cultivation
is eradicated from the entire district,” said Mahendra Sao, the farmer in Barkagaon Village.
Officials of Narcotics Department have assessed that poppy cultivation is spread over 15,000 acres in Jharkhand covering 300 villages. (ANI)

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