Parrots across India have been raiding medicinal poppy fields dozens of times each day. The large group of birds have become such a problem that they’ve caused a decline in poppy production for farmers. Madhya Pradesh, a district in India that is home to a large portion of the country’s poppy fields, has been particularly impacted.
Nandkishore, a poppy farmer in Madhya Pradesh, has been battling the birds that raid his crops. Usual deterrents have had no effect on these parrots.
“We have tried making loud sounds and even use firecrackers to scare the birds. But nothing has helped,” he reported.
“One poppy flower gives around 20 to 25 grams of Opium,” Nandkishore said. “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. These Opium-addicted parrots are wreaking havoc.”
These farmers are at a point where their yield is being significantly affected by the birds and other factors. While one can’t control the elements, they do feel like this bird infestation is a problem that can be fixed. Nandkishore and other farmers have reported these issues to local police but have seen no response to stop these birds.
“We are already suffering because of uneven rain, and now this,” he said. “Nobody is listening to our problems. Who will compensate for our losses?”
Other farmers comment on the birds developing strategies in stealing the poppy buds. Sobharam Rathod, a farmer from Neemach, estimated that parrots were stealing about 10% of his crop in 2017. He reported that “[u]sually, the parrots would make sound when in a group. But these birds have become so smart that they don’t make any noise when they swoop on the fields.”
Impact on The Opioid Industry
The growth of Opioid prescriptions across the globe has created an entire industry of poppy farming. The region of Madhya Pradesh and the neighboring Rajasthan contains 147 square miles of India’s licensed poppy farms. That is more than 86% of India’s total poppy cultivation.
Stories of birds getting high from Opium farms have gone back to 2015. The birds would become intoxicated, only to return once the effects wore off.
Despite the growing awareness of Opioids’ harmful effects, millions are prescribed around the globe. While these birds may seem like an innocent, even humorous, story, the impact may grow and have effects on communities across the US.