Concentrated Poppy Straw

Concentrated Poppy Straw

India is one of the few countries internationally permitted to cultivate opium poppy for export. Two types of narcotic raw material can be produced from opium poppy (a) Opium gum; or (b) concentrate of poppy straw (CPS). So far, only opium gum has been produced in India. The Govt. of India has now decided that CPS production should be commenced in India. In this regard, the Govt of India in the Opium Policy 2021-22 has allowed licenses to cultivators for production of unlanced Poppy Straw to be used in manufacturing of alkaloids using CPS technology.


Poppy straw is derived from the plant Papaver somniferum L., which has been cultivated in many countries of Europe and Asia for centuries. The purpose of its cultivation was originally, and still is principally in many countries, the production of poppy seed. The latter is used as a foodstuff and as a raw material for manufacture of poppy seed oil. Poppy straw is crushed poppy capsule or poppy husk. It is what remains after the poppy seed harvest, that is, the dried stalks, stem and leaves of poppies grown for their seeds. The 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs defines poppy straw as "all parts (except the seeds) of the opium poppy, after mowing". Poppy straw is one of the narcotic drugs under the NDPS Act, 1985. Hence, anyone possessing, selling, purchasing or using poppy straw without a license or authorization or in violation of any conditions of the license is liable to prosecution under the NDPS Act.

Historical Development:

The use of an opium gum of poppy capsules has long been known, perhaps ever since the beginning of poppy cultivation there more than 3,000 years ago. However, the commercial manufacture of morphine directly from the poppy plant (CPS) dates only from the 1920's, when it was begun in Hungary by Janos von Kabay.

The original conception was that a field of green poppies would be mowed like hay, before maturity and then processed for alkaloids. However as soon as it was learned that the morphine did not disappear when the juice dried up, but remained in the mature dried plant, it became possible to use the poppies both for seed production and for alkaloids. At first the whole dried poppy plant was cut off for processing, and the term "poppy straw" for this material came, into international use. As soon as reliable analyses were available, it was clear that nearly all the, morphine was obtained from the capsules. The industry then began to use poppy capsules with as little stem as possible.

Forming CPS from Poppy Straw:

Poppy straw is first pulverized and then washed as many as six to ten or more times in water and/or various acids and other chemicals, to produce concentrate of poppy straw (CPS). After drying the concentrate becomes beige or brown powder. It contains salts of various alkaloids, and can range from 9 to 30 times the morphine concentration of poppy straw.

Alkaloids Composition:

Per hectare yield of CPS method is higher than lancing procedure by way of increase in percentage of morphine and other alkaloids.



Lancing method (in %)

CPS method (in %)

(in addition to Lancing Method)




0.110 to 1.140




0.005 to 0.134




0.005 to 0.270




0.001 to 0.440




0.006 to 0.418


Advantages of CPS:

  • All other opium growing countries follow this process. After shift to CPS method India will be at par with other nations.
  • As other countries have already shifted to CPS method, demand for Indian opium in global market is reducing which is evident from decreasing trend of export of Opium. CPS provides opportunity for India to regain its market place by export of CPS.
  • It is less labour intensive than lancing method and hence reduces cost of raw material for alkaloids.
  • CPS will also help in better drug law enforcement as it will reduce that illicit market for opium gum.
  • In CPS particular alkaloid reach variety (for ex, Morphine rich variety seeds, Thebaine rich variety seeds etc.) can be produced as per requirement of market.
  • In one year 2-3 crop cycles with different alkaloid rich variety may be produced which will improve the productivity.
  • In a year 2-3 crop cycles with different alkaloid rich variety seeds can be achieved which will increase the productivity.
  • Yields of alkaloids are higher in CPS than in opium gum.


  • As CPS method is new to India, developing a process to make CPS, extract alkaloids from CPS and to build infrastructure for same may take time.
  • Creating CPS from poppy straw is water intensive process. As India is already facing shortage of water and this poses a challenge which needs to be look after.

CPS: A way forward

 CPS provides landmark shift in India’s approach of alkaloid extraction from Poppy. For crop year 2021-22 Central Bureau of Narcotics has distributed around 10% of total licences for cultivation of poppy specifically for CPS. Around 7500 cultivators have tendered nearly 400 tonnes of poppy straw in crop year 2021-22. This also provides opportunity to CCF/GOAW’s to invest in R&D and be a torch bearer to develop an indigenous and efficient process for alkaloid extraction from CPS and make India “Atmanirbhar” in alkaloid-based medicines.