New Delhi: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Turkey on the trade in poppy seeds to ensure quick and transparent processing for import of poppy seeds from Turkey.
The MoU provides that a Turkish Grain Board (TMO) shall maintain an online system to enable regulation of export of poppy seeds from Turkey to India. Exporting companies shall submit an application through the Agean Exporters Association (EIB) (responsibility given by law) to TMO for obtaining membership of the online system.
Each year, the quantity of poppy seeds which shall be imported by India from Turkey shall be decided by the Government of India in consultation with the Government of Turkey, taking into account the production of poppy seeds in Turkey in a crop year, balance from previous crop years and domestic or other export requirement of Turkey.
The exporting companies shall get registered with the TMO. Each sales contract entered into by the exporting company with Indian importer shall be registered with TMO through the online system referred. It shall be the responsibility of the TMO not to register sales contract in excess of the quantity of poppy seeds.
Taking into account the quantity every year, both parties may consider setting a quantity to be imported by any Indian importer in a crop year.
The Central Bureau of Narcotics (CBN) will register the sales contract registered by TMO as per details accessed on the online system maintained by TMO in accordance with guidelines for registration laid down by the Ministry of Finance.
The CBN shall upload the details of sales contract so registered by it on the online system. The TMO shall allow the export in respect of only those contracts so registered by CBN.
The TMO shall provide a legal production certificate for the poppy seeds to exporters following the submission of the sales contract and the completion of other necessary procedures.
The MoU will promote quick and transparent processing of quota allocation and prior authorisation for poppy seeds import from Turkey. In this way, the genuineness of import contract can be easily ensured as well as many litigation matters resulting in the delay in the import can be avoided.
It will ensure continuous availability of poppy seeds in the domestic market of India and ultimately Indian consumers of poppy seeds will be benefited.
The import of poppy seeds from Turkey got withheld due to litigation resulting in a great hike of price of poppy seeds in the domestic market of India and hoarding of the same by some importers. Various stays given by the Court and repeated adjournment of hearing graves the situation and resulted in less availability of poppy seeds in the country leading to great problems to the consumers.
To avoid such legal complication, price rise, and hoarding, an alternative mechanism needs to be evolved by way of a MoU between Government of India and Government of Turkey, in which real-time data can be exchanged to ensure the quantity of poppy seeds imported from Turkey is genuine and legally produced in Turkey.