NT’s first commercially grown opium poppy crop almost ready for harvest

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Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Northern Territory’s first commercial crop of poppies – planted in June on Tipperary Station, around 200 kilometres south of Darwin – is almost ready for harvest.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Australian-owned company TPI Enterprises Limited will harvest the capsules, seed and some stalk over the next month.

TPI – formed in 2004 – is one of three licensed poppy processors in Australia and one of eight processors worldwide producing Narcotic Raw Material (NRM).

The company expects 150 tonne of product to be produced from NT’s first commercially grown opium poppy crop.

Once harvested, the product will then be processed in Victoria, before being sold to the international pharmaceutical industry.

Opium is a key ingredient in pain relief medication including morphine, codeine and thebaine.

“The expansion of growing to the Northern Territory is an important part of TPI’s strategy to diversify its sources of supply of poppy straw to help the company meet the growing international demand for narcotic raw material product,” said CEO and Managing Director of TPI Enterprises Jarrod Ritchie.

“The introduction of poppy crops to the NT offers new opportunities for Territory farmers, as well as strengthens Australia’s position as a reliable supplier of high quality raw materials for the global pharmaceutical industry. TPI welcomes the support of the Northern Territory Government for the introduction of commercial poppy growing to the Northern Territory.”

Minister for Primary Industry and Fisheries Willem Westra van Holthe said the government has reduced the red tape and has introduced new legislation in order to pave the way for the growth of the promising industry.

“The Northern Territory Government is committed to creating economic and employment opportunities; that’s why we put in place the Poppy Regulation Act 2014 to get this new industry off the ground,” Minister Westra van Holthe said.

Member for Daly Gary Higgins said the new industry is “a major boost for the local region and assured residents their safety is paramount.”

“I’m confident that a successful and sustainable poppy industry can be developed in the Douglas Daly region, improving local employment and economic outcomes,” he said.