Parrots ‘hooked on opium’ wreak havoc on Indian farmers’ crops

Producers failing to scare away apparently drug-addicted birds with firecrackers and loudspeakers

Tom Barnes
Friday 01 March 2019 17:07 GMT
A group of parakeets in India are steeling farmers' opium crops after getting hooked on the drug
A group of parakeets in India are steeling farmers' opium crops after getting hooked on the drug (iStock)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Farmers in India are complaining that parrots seemingly addicted to opium are destroying their poppy crops.

Tiny parakeets, which appear to have become hooked on the powerful narcotic, have been spotted raiding fields in Madhya Pradesh dozens of time every day.

Crop destruction by birds has exacerbated problems with low rainfall, which is already reducing the yields of legal opium producers in the state.

Nandkishore, an opium grower in Madhya Pradesh, said his pleas for authorities to take action had fallen on deaf ears.

He told NDTV that producers in the area had resorted to a number of unconventional methods in an attempt to drive the birds away, including firecrackers and loud speakers, all to no avail.

“One poppy flower gives around 20 to 25 grams of opium. But a large group of parrots feed on these plants around 30 to 40 times a day and some even fly away with poppy pods. This affects the produce,” he said.

“We are already suffering because of uneven rain, and now this. Nobody is listening to our problems. Who will compensate for our losses?”

“We have tried making loud sounds and even use firecrackers to scare the birds. But nothing has helped.”

The legal cultivation of opium for medicinal purposes is carried out in several regions of India under special licences.

This regulated industry makes India the largest producer of legal opium in the world, according to the CIA World Factbook.

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