West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has urged the Centre to allow poppy cultivation in the state, insisting that delicacies prepared with its seeds are integral to the Bengali cuisine. Banerjee said ‘posto’ or poppy seeds are costly as it is cultivated only in a few states.
”Bengalis love ‘posto’. Why should it be cultivated in only four states? Why not in West Bengal, despite it being on our menu every day?” she said.
”Why will we have to purchase ‘posto’ from other states at high prices? Why will West Bengal not get permission for its cultivation? I will ask members of the opposition to write to the Centre on it,” the CM said on Thursday.
The state has been trying to get permission for cultivation of the highly-regulated crop.
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”We have said that the state will cultivate it in agriculture farms. If we can grow poppy here, we will get them at Rs 100 (per kg), instead of Rs 1,000. At times, we have to take decisions unanimously. Not all poppies are drugs,” she claimed.
Banerjee was speaking on budget discussions relating to the Food and Supplies Department. The chief minister also said that as the Centre gave tax relief to ‘basmati’ rice, it should extend similar benefits to ‘gobindobhog’ and ‘tulaipanji’ varieties of rice produced in West Bengal.