Opium, cannabis farming thrives in West Nepal

By A Staff Reporter

seedKathmandu, June 3: Farming of opium and production of hashish have been thriving every year in the west and some Terai regions of Nepal, with an indirect investment from the Indian drug traders, according to Nepal Police. 

Indian investors visiting several Terai regions, far-west, and mid-west, of the country have been indirectly providing funds to the poor Nepali community for seeds plantation of cannabis and opium in Nepal for years, Narcotics Control Bureau officers, said.
NCB and Nepal Police units across the country saw it as a challenge to controlling the farming of the banned items, apart from its illegal selling and consumption in Nepal, they said.
Hashish and opium are generally two illegal items produced in Nepal so as to meet the demand of two neighbouring countries India and China, according to the police. Hashish is generally derived from cannabis leaves.
Farming of opium plants is more profitable than planting marijuana as there is more money in opium, former Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Hemanta Malla Thakuri, said.
“In a hope of getting some money for their livelihood, some poor community residing in far mountain, Himalaya and Terai regions are becoming a prey to such drug traders,” Thakuri said. “Several past investigations had shown that the Indian investors provide seeds, money and fertilisers for its farming every year,” he said.
Narcotics analyst Krishna Prasad Tripathi said that commercial farming of hashish and opium had become a critical issue in Nepal which the government had failed to address in time. As Nepal is considered a best transit hub for smuggling of any illegal goods, commercial farming of opium is also becoming a serious challenge, he said.
The NCB had alone seized 26,899 kilograms of hashish and 187 kg of opium in the last six years. On May 3, police destroyed marijuana planted in 20 ropanis of land in various places of Bajura district.
Also, on May 11, police in Annapurna Rural Municipality-5 in Myagdi district, destroyed banned plant farmed in five ropanis land and in two ropanis land at Bhumi Rural Municipality in Rukum district, according to NCB.
DIG and spokesperson of Nepal Police Bishworaj Pokharel said not only in far-remote areas of the country, there is also a trend of commercial farming of hashish in Lalitpur and Kathmandu.
Superintendent of Police and spokesperson at NCB Krishna Prasai said that the NCB had destroyed marijuana farmed in 1,235 bigaha land and opium in 285 bigaha land.
According to the NCB, some of the major districts that promote production and selling of hashish and opium are – Makwanpur, Rukum, Rolpa, Bajura, Bhojpur, Dhading, Khotang, Ramechhap, Saptari, Siraha, Mahottari, and Dhanusha.Narcotics analyst Tripathi said some of the Terai districts were much known for production of opium plants than hashish. Today, more than half of the total districts in Nepal are growing hashish and opium.
DIG Dinesh Amatya and chief at NCB also conceded that more than half of the districts of the country are growing marijuana and opium taking advantage of low presence of police. “We are still destroying such farming as much as we can,” Amatya said.
“The government (local body government) should act immediately for stopping commercial farming of hashish with investment from the Indians by using Nepalis farmers,” he said.
Poor household families should be provided alternatives for their daily earnings by launching special livelihood programmes, Malla said.  

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