There is a looming war between poppy growers in Tasmania and Turkey. However, it is not similar to drug battles fought in Columbia, Mexico or other illegal drug-producing areas.
It is a fight for a larger share of the opium alkaloids pharmaceutical market which the Tasmanian manufacturers used to dominate with a current market share of 49 per cent.
However, Tasmanian producers have felt threatened due to a one-time permission granted by the state government that allows TPI Enterprises to bring in 2,000 tonnes of poppy straw because of TPI's loss of support from local suppliers. TPI is one of the three processors of medical opium in the state.
Keith Rice, chief executive of the Poppy Growers Association of Tasmania (PGAT) said that TPI lost support of Tasmanian suppliers due to its offer of contractual arrangements that are lower than industry standards.
However, TPI Chief Executive Jarrod Ritchie explained the lower supply to bad weather the past two seasons, but insisted it has 140 farmers who are happy with their contracts with TPI. He said the PGAT is against the Turkish import because TPI opted to pay the levy to the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, not to PGAT.
A possible solution to the problem is for the two other processors, GlaxoSmithKline and Tasmanian Alkaloids, to contract the poppy crop and sell it to TPI, PGAT said.
The poppy trade in Tasmania is worth at least $100 million a year, which definitely is small time compared to the billions of dollars of illegal drugs transactions that take place in other parts of the world.