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Illegal Opium Production in Nepal

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Download In Southern Nepal, in a province bordering India, cannabis has been grown for more than 15 years.

According to the police in the last two years farmers are shifting to opium crops instead.

Due to the poor law and order and the high demand for opium globally the illegal farming is expanding.

Sunil Neupane reports from Bisrampur village in the Parsa district renowned for cannabis and now increasing opium production.

 

Children play football just a few kilometres away from the Indian border. The border is open so they, like all villagers, can cross the border without showing a passport or identification cards.

In a nearby house 62-year-old Mansoor Dewan is preparing his grandson for school.  

Mansoor is a farmer responsible for a family of eleven people.

He is hunchbacked and his face is totally wrinkled and seems older than his age.

Last year he started growing opium instead of cannabis on his one hectare of land.

“Cultivation of opium is more profitable than other crops for us. If we plant opium, we can earn easily more than 1000 USD in a small area. But at the same place if we plant rice then we can earn only 80 to 100 USD. So it’s worth the risks.”

Mansoor is very happy because this year he produced four and half kilograms of raw opium earning him more than four thousand three hundred US dollars.

In this village and 10 surrounding ones most of the farmers grow cannibis and increasingly opium.

It’s illegal but Ravi Dahal the editor of a local radio station says that is not stopping people.

“Illegal cultivation of opium is increasing day by day in the last one to two years. Though the police office has declared this district as a cannabis free zone but on the other hand people have started to cultivate opium in a larger quantity in comparison to last year. There are two reasons to cultivate opium, first is that the very poor implementation of law and order. And another is people are getting a very easy option for good money.”  

In this community a large dowry needs to be paid when a daughter is married.

Sahidulla Ansari is a farmer and also a local collector of opium and cannabis.

“There is big risk but we have to take it because if I don’t do this how will my daughter get married? We usually have to pay 7000 USD to the husband’s family at the time of marriage. I have no more land and it is not possible to feed my family by cultivating rice in this field.”     

Opium farming is something new here. Farmers here say they are learning from Indian skilled labourers that cross the border.

Indian traders buy the raw opium off the Nepalese farmers for 1000 USD per kilogram. It’s then processed into heroin and morphine in India.  

It’s an illegal business  and in 2010, three villagers were killed by police when they seized cannabis and opium.

But opium farmer Mansoor Dewan says there is a way around the problem.

“We have to give some money to the police to keep them happy. The amount of money depends on the size of our farm. If somebody won't give money to them, they will destroy that farmer's farm.”

Fellow opium farmer Sahiduallaha, like every household in this village, owns a gun.    

RabiBhusan Ram a teacher at the local high school says more and more children are dropping out of school as they see their future in opium production.

“There are many problems. Children are not coming to the school. Society is becoming rich but they are not conscious about their children's future. People are spending that black money for drinking alcohol and purchasing new clothes.”

But for now there are no obvious signs of wealth in this village.

Most of the houses are made of mud and straw. Children play on the dusty streets.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 July 2011 09:01 )  

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