Pages: 6 to 38
Creation Date: 1949/01/01


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Papaver somniferum L.

The opium poppy can be grown in most of the habitable parts of the world except the northernmost, up to at least latitude 56°. Where this poppy can be grown, opium can he produced, though not always profitably or legally. In a number of countries the opium poppy is grown for its seeds, and not for opium at all. It is then referred to as "the garden poppy," in stead of "the opium poppy", but it is just the same plant, scientifically known as Papaver somnilerum Linnaeus . The seeds are a valuable oil-containing food, and are also pressed for the oil, which may he used as a table oil for other purposes, such as artists' paints. The pressed-out poppyseedcake is used as feed for cattle.[1]

There are many species of poppies, but only Papaver somniferum is known to elaborate morphine, and therefore it id the only poppy known to produce a true opium. It. is also the only poppy grown commercially for edible seeds. Sometimes, like other poppies, it is grown merely for its flowers. It has numerous floral varieties, single and double, with petals spotted at the base with either violet or white, and colors ranging from pure white through pink, lavender and red, to very dark violet. The familiar Shirley Poppies, and their progenitor the common red poppy ( Papaver rhocas), and the showy Oriental Poppies ( Papaver orientale and Papaver bracteatum) produce no morphine and should not be mistaken for opium poppies. In this article, when there is reference simply to "the poppy" or "poppies", Papaver somniferum is meant.

The "Poppy belt," shown in black on the top on the opposite page, spreads across the great Eurasian land-mass in most of the temperate and sub-tropical areas. As indicated, the Papaver somniferum also is cultivated in parts of northern Africa and in the western hemisphere--although on a much smaller scale, as all cultivation (except for some experiments in Argentina) is illicit. A detailed breakdown of opium production by countries may be found on the map on pages 30 and 31.

Papaver somniferum is grown primarily for its seeds, both commercially and in the home vegetable. gardens, in a great belt across central Europe, taking in the Netherlands, Belgium, northern France, southern Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, northern Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania and the Ukraine. The southern European countries very seldom grow the poppy for its seeds because as an oil producer it cannot compete with the olive. In the great poppy belt of Europe there is almost never any production of opium, but since the 1930's, a number of these countries have begun to utilize, to some extent, the dried poppy plant material or capsule chaff left over from threshing out the seeds, for the direct extraction of morphine and the manufacture of opiates. The United States, Australia, Chile, Argentina and Italy may also be mentioned as having experimented with the utilization of poppy chaff.

Occasionally, e.g., in France[2] or England,[3] a limited cultivation is primarily for the capsules, which are cut green and dried for pharmaceutical use. They are used in official medicine in some countries and in some for home medicines such as sleeping potions or cough syrups.

But the greatest cultivation of the poppy, chiefly in Asia, is for opium. A few days after the flower petals fall the cultivator scratches the outside of the green capsule with a knife. A white, milky juice flows, out. Usually it is left to dry on the capsule for several hours, then collected. It gradually turns brown on exposure to the air and coagulates with standing and drying. This coagulated juice of the poppy is opium.

The opium poppy is an annual plant. Mainly, the seed is sown in the fall. It can also he sown in spring, either by choice or to replace a fall sowing which has failed. The harvest takes place between May and August.

The original home of the opium poppy is probably the Mediterranean region, and probably its cultivation first began near the eastern end of the Mediterranean. The culture for seed seems to have come first, perhaps coupled with a knowledge of the soothing and sleep-producing powers of the capsules, when made into "poppy tea". The knowledge of the concentrated drug, opium, is known to be more than 2,000 years old in eastern Mediterranean lands. The culture for seed has moved chiefly northward and westward, and is very ancient in Europe. The culture for opium, and with it the common use of opium as a drug of addiction, reversing most world-trends has spread from west to cast. Originally, opium as a drug of addiction was eaten, or drunk as an infusion. The smoking of opium, which became such a terrible vice among the Chinese, is comparatively recent, only some hundreds of years old. Opium culture is believed to have reached Japan about 500 years ago.[4] Only in recent yearn, has it crossed the Pacific and become established to a certain extent, though wholly illicit and under constant attack, in the mountains of western Mexico.

Here it may be mentioned that opium is often, though by no means always, produced in mountainous regions. Illicit production, of course, is likely to be located in hidden valleys and places of difficult access. But even licit production is more likely to be in out-of-the-way places. Opium is a good cash crop in many lands, it has a fairly high value in proportion to its bulk and weight, and no important difficulties of transport or storage. Where good roads offer easy access to large markets, some more bulky crop may he as profitable to the farmer as opium, even if there are no important governmental restrictions. In mountainous, backward ,areas, where roads are few or non-existent, opium may be one of the very few crops that can he produced profitably for sale in the outside market.



Tunis. There has been a little illicit production in Tunis, signalized by small seizures of opium still in a soft condition. In 1947 a total of 5.7 kg. of opium was seized, but probably less than half of this represented local production. The opium is intended for eating, not smoking. That locally produced is said to contain only about three percent of morphine. This probably indicates considerable adulteration, as well as a high moisture content. It is produced in the region around Bizerte and Porto-Farina. In recent years the poppy plants have sometimes been discovered and destroyed. They are grown by the natives in gardens and orchards.[5]




1944 4,229
Region of Porto--Ferina
1945 7,308
Porto-Farina, Rafraf
1947 22,216
Bizerte district

Egypt is one of the ancient homes of opium cultivation, and Egyptian opium was particularly famous in the Middle Ages. Poppy cultivation is now completely prohibited, but there is a little illicit cultivation and production of opium. Recently Egypt has been one of the chief victim countries of the narcotics traffic. Huge quantities of opium are smuggled in, as well as hashish and manufactured drugs. The low mark for seizures of smuggled opium was in 1935 - 247 kilogrammes, least quantity in the last twenty years. By 1937 the seizures amounted to more than a ton, and since then they have greatly increased until, for 1948, they amounted to more than four and one-half tons! The quantity smuggled without detection is of course much greater. The enormous influx of narcotics may well be termed "the last plague of Egypt."[6] Some success has been attained in repressing illicit domestic production. In 1940 air patrols were instituted to look for poppy fields. This quickly cut domestic production, as many .farmers pulled up their illicit plants or discontinued planting when they realized discovery was likely. Judging from the areas of poppies destroyed, illicit production in Egypt is not large. About 10 kilogrammes of opium can usually be produced from one hectare. Following are figures from the Annual Reports* of seizures of opium (nearly all smuggled) and illicit Egyptian cultivation destroyed (hectares by conversion) :[7]

* "Annual Report" refers to the Annual Reports of Governments under the Convention for Limiting the Manufacture and Regulating the Distribution of Narcotic Drugs of 13 July 1931.




1937 1,006 419
1938 1,037 100
1939 1,110 239
1940 1,650 340
1941 1,153 42
1942 1,271 11
1943 686 11
1944 1,171 23
1945 2,006 8
1946 2,439 0.14
1947 3,655 15
1948 4,606 45


In Europe, aside from Macedonia, opium production has been negligible; but experimental production has been tried at one time or another in most European countries. So far as known, there has been no illicit production of opium in the great "poppy belt" of Europe. A few countries deserve present mention.

Spain. In 1944 and 1945 there was some experimental cultivation, presumably for trial of opium production, in the provinces of Valencia and Valladolid.[8] There has been no Annual Report* from Spain since then.

Italy. In 1935 experimental production on 12.35 hectares resulted in 41.15 kg. of opium. In 1936 on 11.65 hectares 3,9 kg. of opium was produced.[9] Italy then ceased collaboration with the League of Nations and no further Annual Report is available until 1947. It seems there has been sonic experimental production in Sardinia.[10]

Germany. The Annual Report for the United States Zone of Germany for 1946 gave the text of a notice which appeared in " Die Pharmazie", vol 1, no. 3, August 1946, p. 127, inviting farmers growing poppies in the Soviet zone to attempt the collection of opium, under control.[11] The outcome of the experiment has not been officially reported. Reference can also he made to two German articles on opium production in Germany.[12]

Hungary has not been a producer, even experimentally, in recent years. Formerly some opium was produced by a drug company which used it pharmaceutically, but since the success of the Kabay process for obtaining morphine from poppy plant material (1934) no opium has been produced in Hungary. In 1936 the cultivation of the poppy for opium on seven hectares of land was authorized; but the crop failed. This seems to have been the last attempt.[13]

Yugoslavia is one of the major opium-producing and exporting countries. Production is only in part of Vardar province, the south-easternmost part of the country, adjacent to Bulgaria and Greece.

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For the four years just before the war, production averaged some 63 tons annually; since the war it has been less than half as much (1946 and 1947). In 1946 the crop was poor; in 1947 the area cultivated for opium was reduced and the yield was also low. No figures are available for the years 1939 to 1945. In fact, during the period that Yugoslavia was overrun by the Germans, Vardar province was attached to Bulgaria. Yugoslavia uses some opium for domestic manufacture; the rest is exported to other manufacturing countries. The domestic utilization, for manufacture amounted to 9,946 kg. in 1947.[14] It should he mentioned that production figures are in terms of opium of 60 to 75 per cent consistence (40 to 25 per cent moisture), while the exported opium is dryer, with a consistence of 80 to 90 per cent. Thus 100 kg. of opium produced may make only about 75 kg. of standardized export opium, but the apparent loss is merely evaporation of water. The Yugoslav export opium is of high quality, having a morphine content of around 15 per cent. Following are pre-war and post-war figures for area, production and export.[15] , [16]





1935 7,000 75,000 36,703
1936 7,826 63,220 32.281
1937 7.430 62,200 48.611
1938 7.360 53,200 29.915
1946 7.186 30.000 24,028
1947 4.680 23.432 19.344

Bulgaria is a small producer but not entirely negligible in the export market- Production is along the Maritza and the Struma rivers, in the southern and southwestern part of the county. The following figures give some data on pre-war and post-war production:[17]





1935 700 7,000 3,113
1936 890 5.700 4,964
1937 772 7,712 6.083
4,593 1.460
1939 723 7.217 2.723
1947 300 2.731 11,000

Greece sometimes produces a little opium in Greek Macedonia.* The post-war production has been merely for the medical needs of the country. The maximum production in Greece since 1926 was 3,428 kg. in 1928. There are no figures for the war period, but the maximum known production in recent' years was a little under 296 kg., in 1946.[18] ,[31a]




1935 0
no production
1936 0
no production
1937 0
no production
1938 4* 17
1946 56* 296
1947 120 132

* Macedonia, the beginning, at the western end, of the real "opium belt", is possibly within, or certainly very near to the area of opium production in ancient times. But the present cultivation of opium there seems to have been introduced by the Turks in modem times, while the area was under Turkish rule, and it is said that the peasants who grow the opium there are largely of Turkish stock. The producing area is divided between three countries, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Greece.


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Turkey is the chief opium exporting country of the world. There is no domestic manufacture, and there has been no exportation to opium-smoking countries since 1941--the entire production, except for some possible smuggling, is exported to the manufacturing countries. By Law 2253 the Ministry of Agriculture fixes each year the areas where opium can be produced. Ordinarily the same twelve vilayets are named, in which production is permitted in the whole vilayet, and some counties in other vilayets, which may he changed from year to year. There are three producing districts. The chief one, west of Ankara, includes the vilayets of Afyon-Karahissar, Bilecik, Burdur, Denizli, Eskishehir, Isparta, Konya and Kutahya, and generally some counties in Ankara and Bursa. These produce "druggist's" opium which constitutes about 90 per cent of Turkish opium. This has long been the opium chiefly used in the world for opium medicines and for manufacture of alkaloids. The other two producing districts, east of Ankara, produce "soft" opium. This opium was formerly exported to opium-smoking countries; the word "soft" is used in the opposite sense to "harsh", not as signifying soft to touch.

At the Present time this opium is mixed in with the rest, for export to manufacturing countries. The more important of the two districts producing "soft" opium takes in the vilayets of Amasya, Chorum and Tokat. These produce a high grade of opium, containing some 13 to 14 per cent morphine. The remaining district consists only of the vilayet of Malatya. This produces "soft" opium of about 10 per cent morphine. There are some additional areas in which the poppy may be cultivated for seed alone. No production of opium is permitted within about 100 kilometres of the border or coast. Turkey tries to maintain a constant production of opium. The area is intended to be about 30,000 hectares or a little less each year. Moreover, continuous records are available. Under these conditions the averages are more significant than in most other cases. The average production has been some 243 tons annually (1938-1947) and the average exports nearly 201 tons. The difference is largely due to drying. However, the production figures are estimates, and though established by the Government, they may be too high. There is no exact check on them because trade in opium is free in Turkey. That is, anyone may possess opium and the peasant producers and opium merchants may, and sometimes do, hold some of their opium for several years. The standardized Turkish opium which is exported usually contains 12 to 14 per cent of morphine. The following figures give the area, production, quantity standardized, and exports for the ten years 1938-1947.[16] , [14] , [19]



Area (hectares)

Production of row opium (kilogrammes)

Quantity Standardized (kilogrammes)

Standardized Opium Exported (kilogrammes)

1938 28.416 246.000 216,317 115,919
1939 31.170 262,000 462.239 338,479
1940 29.852 223.000 232.044 335.591
1941 29,790 206,000 113,293 199.752
1942 28,314 285,000 182,570 218.993
1943 29,548 289,000 132.989 153,187
1944 26.847 183,000 122,231 88.225
1945 25,475 147,000 119.406 162.005
1946 29.083 262,226 223.365 198.145
1947 30.662 333.710 202,674 209,030
28.911 243.694 200,713 200.933

Below: two samples of Turkish opium not yet standardized, wrapped in poppy leaf. Right: Standardized Turkish opium. Note coating of chaff and the granular texture where broken.

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Iran is one of the chief opium-producing and exporting countries. It is also one of the countries where opium addiction is widespread. In 1946 the production of opium was prohibited by decree, but this decree has never been enacted into law by the Iranian Parliament. The official figures for production of opium represent the quantities taken over by the government monopoly. At the fourth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (1949) the representatives of the United States and the United Kingdom estimated the current production (1948-1949) at 1,500 tons or more annually; this of course refers to production which is illicit under the decree. The representative of Iran considered this figure far too high, and called attention to the official figures, which showed a maximum of 789 tons (in 1940) during the last ten years, when production was legal in Iran. He indicated a possible production of 350 to 400 tons.[20] , [21] The largest production ever reported by Iran was in 1936 (Iranian year 1315, beginning 21 March 1936); the amount was some 1,346 tons. It was definitely stated then that this large amount was due to an improved method of collection, begun the year before, and "in no way the result of extension of the culture", although the amount reported for 1934 had been only 459 tons.[22] At the third session of the Com- mission on Narcotic Drugs the United States representative remarked that Iran's production had been estimated in 1947 at 300 tons as against 800 tons in 1946 and an average of 1,000 tons in pre-war years.[23a] It is evident that the word "production"is sometimes used in two different senses. As regards addiction, at the fourth session of the Com- mission on Narcotic Drugs the representative of Iran stated that opium smoking had been permitted until 1946 when it had been prohibited; today there were officially no opium smokers.[20] The official figures show an average annual consumption by addicts of some 270 tons, 1937 to 1942; the population at the time was about 16,500,000. This consumption was given as "nil" for 1947 and 1948. Iranian opium was issued for home consumption in the form of sticks about six and one-half inches long, wrapped in paper with Persian characters and a design printed in color; blue, purplish red or green. These sticks were frequently found in the illicit traffic. Iranian opium usually contains about 10 to 12 per cent morphine. It is produced in a large part of the country, chiefly in the north-east and. the west-central to south-western part. Khorassan, Luristan, Isfahan and Fars are provinces of the largest production. There is also production in Kermanshah, Hamadan, Yazd and Kerman, and a little elsewhere. Opium is not the exclusive crop of any cultivator. Generally it is grown in a system of crop rotation, followed by salons or vegetables, then by cereals, in successive years. The official figures for the whole of the country, recently transmitted by Iran,[24] are tabulated on page 11.


EXPORTS* (kg.)


Area (hectares)

Production (kg.)

Consumption (kg.)

to countries manufacturing drugs for medical purposes (kg.)

to opium-smoking countries and others** (kg.)

1937 22,305 521,000 273,000 59,821 179,371
1938 26,963 704,000 269,000 118,091 357,739
1939 24,543 672,000 300,000 62,964 60,545
1940 28,036 789,000 307,000 3,631 131,754
1941 37,113 761,000 263,000
1942 11,820 210,000 211,000 105,512
1943 1,068 215,000 122,000 9,367
1944 12,740 131,000 66,000 17,000
1945 9,287 182,000 64,000
1946 18,400 516,000 28,000 53,750
1947 187 5,600
1948 1,17 34,100

* This separation of exports into two classes has been made by the Secretariat.

** This column includes the exports to Japan in 1937.

*** The figures originally given for 1947 included a duplication of the shipment shown in 1948. See reference 62.

Afghanistan prohibited opium production in 1945. No information as to the observance of this prohibition is available. The Annual Report of India for 1946 mentioned continued smuggling from Afghanistan. The last Annual Report sent by Afghanistan was that for 1937. This stated that in 1932 the area of cultivation was 3,846 hectares and that there had been no change. The production was then estimated at 74.5 tons. Information regarding exports is fragmentary, as Afghanistan has usually not reported, but some figures have been obtained, chiefly from importing countries. Importations by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from Afghanistan averaged nearly 18 tons, 1934 to 1937, and reached 50.4 tons in 1938.[25]

Germany imported 1.5 tons in 1935 and 1936.; the United States, some Afghan opium from 1937 to 1939--4.25 tons in 1938; France.2.4 tons in 1939. In 1943 the United States imported 22 tons and in 1945, 2.4 tons. The Afghan opium imported into the United States was mostly of very high grade, 13 to 16 per cent of morphine. A second grade contained some 10 per cent morphine. The producing areas, according to Adden's book, were two; one in western Afghanistan, adjacent to Khorassan province of eastern Iran, and the other in eastern Afghanistan, near Kashmir.[26]

Kashmirproduces a little opium. According to the last available report, 123 hectares were cultivated in Jammu and Kashmir in 1945, yielding 664 kg. There has not been much change in the last ten years, although the area has been increased somewhat. The consumption of opium in Kashmir is quite moderate.[27]





1938 50 567 1.9
1939 54 782 2.1
1940 64 490 1.6
1941 57 488 1.4
1942 106 795 1.6
1945 123 664 1.5

Pakistan. In general, the cultivation of the poppy for the production of opium is forbidden. However, 45.2 hectares of cultivation were allowed in Khairpur State in 1947, under the State administration. The amount of opium produced was not stated, but from past records was probably about 10 kg. per hectare, or some 450 kilogrammes total. Khairpur has been a small producer under the British administration.[27]





1938 26 998 8.0
1939 22 251 7.5
1940 11 135 9.9
1941 19 215 5.8
1942 20 243 7.2
1945 19 183 8.6

India is one of the major opium-producing, opium-exporting and opium-using countries. The former India is, of course, now divided into India and Pakistan (and Kashmir). However, all the important opium-producing districts are in the present India. The former India was divided administratively into "British India" and the "Indian States." Often statements concerning opium production, laws, use, etc., in "India" actually applied only to "British India." The Indian States were not a unit, except in allegiance to the British Crown, but in some respects were treated collectively. Two separate Annual Reports were issued. To a considerable degree the division still exists, although the Indian States acceding to India are now more closely integrated with the rest of the country. The production of the Dominion of India in 1947 was some 129 tons; in 1946 the production in British India was some 165 tons, and in the Indian States some 274 tons.

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Production has undergone a number of ups and downs. In the last century it increased tremendously, until the cultivation covered more than 2,000,000 hectares, enormous quantities of opium then being exported to China. Increasing restrictions caused a decline, accelerated by the Opium Conventions of 1912 and 1925. In 1926 India decided to discontinue all exports to opium-smoking countries within ten years, with the exception of some small quantities allowed to countries having a special relationship to India. This program was completed in 1935. The most important exception to its operation at present is Burma, which was administratively a part of India in 1926, and therefore not included in the terms of the declaration. Burma obtained over 22 tons of opium from India as recently as 1946.'2 The low mark in production came in 1941, when the whole of India produced less than 171 tons. Poeduction was then stepped up on account of the war, and reached a maximum of nearly 751 tons in 1945. Since then it has been rapidly reduced. Before the war, exports to manufacturing countries were negligible, but this trade was developed during the war, and reached some 104 tons in 1946 and nearly 118 tons in 1947, exported for medical and scientific needs.[27] , [32] , [14]

Production in British India was very closely controlled. Cultivators were licensed, the area to be cultivated was specified, and the entire amount of opium collected had to be turned over to the Government immediately after the harvest This system is being continued by the Dominion of India,. and controls are progressively tightened in the Indian States.

India has a high consumption of opium. Most of it is eaten rather than smoked; most of it is taken for "quasi-medical" purposes, and it is difficult to draw a line between such uses and outright addiction. In March 1948 the Government of India decided to agree to the suppression of the use of opium except for strictly medical and scientific purposes. The Provincial Governments have been asked to decrease their purchases of opium from the Government factory at Ghazipur by ten per cent annually. The Indian States are also asked to begin a gradual suppression.[28]

Comparisons have often been made between the consumption per capita in India and the figure suggested by the League of Nations. At the Conference which resulted in the 1925 Convention the report of the Mixed Sub-Committee first set a figure of 600 mg. per head per year. The Health Committee, after further examination, reduced the figure to 450 mg. with three reservations.[29] Of these reservations the second, that the figure should apply only to countries which possess a highly developed medical organization, rules out India, but the figures may nevertheless be of some interest. The consumption in the former British India has been for some years below the higher value mentioned. On the other hand, the consumption in some, though not all of the Indian States is large in comparison. In its capacity of easing all pain and sorrow, opium is still offered as a matter of hospitality in some parts of India. "The excessive consumption (in the State of Jaisalmer) may also (in addition to veterinary use) be explained by the fact that opium is freely used by the rich and poor alike on occasions of births, deaths and marriages, etc.[30] Figures on consumption in some of the producing States are given below. In the Annual Reports of the States, consumption is given in seers per 10,000. A seer is not much less than a kilogramme (1 seer=933.1 grams), and the 1925 Conference figures are equivalent respectively, to 6.0 and 4.5 kg. per 10,000. The maund, also used in statistics of the Indian States, is equal to 37.398 kilogrammes.[27] * These equivalents are only men tioned in case one wishes to study the original Reports; the figures below are converted to the metric system.

* There is a slight discrepancy, as the equivalent of the seer would appear to indicate 37.324 kg. for the maund.



Area under Ciltivation (hectares>

Opium Porduction (kg.)

Opium Consumption Kg. per 10,100 inhabitants

Population of State (1941)

7.251 138.365 18.3 4,006,159
3,051 64,283 27.1 1,479.143
1,259 28.810 30.1 353.687
1,319 14.935 5.2 4.764
Dewas, J.B.
353 4,768 86.8 83,669
2.145 74,516 1.3 777,398
1.257 20,457 62.9 122.374
1.333 28,684 11.4 91,967
Udaipur (Mewar)
1,245 20.468 25.1 1,926.698
1.844 34.649 26.2 116.953
1,066 17,450 5.9 33.461
744 8,287 17.7 126.117
265 4,245 20.1 11.528
295 3,764 15.8 400,228
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Official UN photos

Left: Standardized Indian opium, block in colour. Below: Smuggled opium from India-flat cakes in oily paper.

Indian opium is generally dark and oily, and usually contains between 8 and 11 per cent morphine. There is only one producing area under the direct control of the Government of India. That is in the United Provinces. This production is reported in terms of opium of 90 per cent consistency. Formerly there was a little production in the Punjab Hills; 611 kg. in 1936. This production was suppressed after 1936, and the opium remaining in stock, 6,067 kg., was purchased in 1939 by the Ghazipur factory. The Indian States produce more than two-thirds of the opium of India. Those States having the largest production are: Gwalior, Indore, Tonk, Baroda and Dewas, J.B.; and Kotah, Jhalawar, Partahgarh, and Udaipur (Mewar), in Raj- putana; and Jaora, Sitamu, Ratlam, Piploda and Sailana in the Malwa Agency. Nearly all the production of the Indian States is in the area south- west of the United Provinces.

The production and export figures tabulated be- low are derived from the following sources: references [31] , [14] , [32] , [27]

The consumption in British India was 5.8. kg. per 10,000 inhabitants in 1945, 5.9 in 1946. The consumption for all the Indian States collectively was 16.2 kg. per 10,000 inhabitants in 1945 as compared with 21.0 in 1944. [27]





Total Area (hectares)

British India

Indian Stores

Total Production

for manifactoring

for smoking etc.

1937 10,678 36.852 191,403 228,255
1938 11,069 48,367 202,861 251,228
1939 10.779 39,796 192,174 231,970
1940 10,882 38,207 189,870 228.077 7,258 36,453
1941 34,489 136,289 170,778 45,721 33,597  
1942 19,776 105,428 237,251 342,679 93,213 3,766
1943 24,827 152,761 313,309 466,070 80,223 2,259
1944 37,625 213,346 312,273 525,619 20,684 65
1945 41,718 281,901 468,821 750,722 55,917 290
165,326 274,266 439,592 104,178 25,271
129,210 (Dominion)
117,756 700

* The figures for Exports from 1940 to 1945 are from the Annual Reports and are not quite complete. as small quantities exported to Nepal and to the French and Portuguese Settlements in India, and in 1940 and 1941 to Zanzibar and Pemba also, were not stated.

Nepal was formerly a large producer of opium, in days when thousands of kilogrammes of Indian and Nepali opium were purchased for shipment to China. There is no longer any opium from Nepal on the international market, and no official information is available in regard to production for domestic use. Current reference books (Ency-clopaedia Britannica, 1946; Statesman's Year Book, 1945) list opium amongst the important agricultural products of Nepal, but it is not possible, for reasons mentioned above, to cheek the accuracy of these statements. A little Indian opium is exported to Nepal, but on the other hand the Annual Re- ports of India from 1935 to 1942 mentioned opium smuggling from Nepal. Nepal extends from tropical lowlands into the Himalayas. The opium is said to be a product of the tropical lowlands, and there-fore is probably very similar to the opium produced in the adjacent United Provinces of India.

Bhutan. No information available.


Burma, Thailand and Indo-China have. in common that, although they are opium producers, they consume even more opium, chiefly by smoking. In the past, their government monopolies obtained large amount for issuance to smokers, from Iran, Turkey and India. These supplies were cut off by the war. After the war, some exportation was resumed by the shipment of some 22 tons from India to, Burma, nearly 22 tons from Iran to Thailand, and some 49 tone from Iran to Indo-China. [32] , [24] , [33]

Turkey has made no exports to opium-smoking countries since 1941, and India has continued thus far to export to Burma only because Burma was administratively a part of India at the time the .decision was made to end such exports to opium- smoking countries. Iran has recently declared it will make no more such exports. [34] In the future the addicts of Burma, Thailand and Indo-China may have to depend entirely on production in their own countries and in Yunnan (China). Under Japanese influence during the war local production was stimulated, especially in Indo-China. Production is in the wild mountainous areas where the four countries, Burma, Thailand, Indo-China and China, adjoin one another. There is enormous illicit traffic. These frontier areas are the world's paradise for smugglers. whenever opium is in relatively short supply in one of the four countries it is smuggled from the others. The tribes people who produce the opium consume a large part of it themselves.

Burma. In Burma proper there is no production of opium, but there is large consumption. Before the war there 'were about 48,000 registered addicts. It is thought that less than half of these are now alive, but with more than 15,000 new addicts it is estimated that the number of addicts is now approximately 40,000. During and immediately after the war the addicts obtained their supplies almost entirely from illicit sources. The Government's intention is gradual suppression of the habit. [35]

Some addicts are smokers and some are opium eaters. In 1938 and 1939, although more than 20,000 registered smokers could obtain opium legally, it was estimated that 12,000 to 15,000 or more additional smokers obtained supplies from illicit sources. Seizures have been enormous; in 1936 for Burma and the Shane States they amounted to more than 17 tons of raw and prepared opium, and in 1939, nearly 13 tons [36] . The producing areas of the Union of Burma are in the parts known under the 1948 Constitution as Kachin State and Shane State. Kochi State is the north-eastern part of the Union, and adjoins Yunnan. Approximately the northern half of the State is an area claimed by China. Production has been tolerated, though discouraged, in the &rdquoTriangle&rdquo between the Mali and Name Rivers, and in the Hukawng Valley; both in the Myitkyina District. Cultivation here was intended to he prohibited by 1943 but the war intervened. Under the Military Administration this cultivation was to be suppressed by May 1946. The independence of Burma and political turmoil have intervened. There has also been some production in the eastern part of the Bhamo District, the southern part of Kachin State. In 1946-47 illegal crops were destroyed in this area. [37] There has never been an estimate of production in Kachin State, unless the figure of 2,400 kg in the reply of Burma to the Questionnaire* refers to this area. Production is chiefly in the eastern part of Shan State, which is bordered by Yunnan (China), Indo-China and Thailand. The Shan State comprises the former Federated Shan States. They were semi-independent; under British rule they were within the administrative area of Burma but managed by their own chiefs under the supervision of a special commissioner. The producing States are cast of the Salween River, a rather inaccessible territory and in places subject to little or no administration. The recognized producing districts were Kokang, East Manglun and Kengtung. Production in 1946 for the Shan States seems to have been about 35 tons; before the war the reported production was 18 to 27 tons. It is possible that there- is a further large production in unadministered Wa States. In 1929 the Superintendent of the Northern Shan States thought that the Wa States, in which there was then no control at all over opium, produced probably about 58,700 kg. annually.[61] There seems to he no information since that time as to whether the same area has remained unadministered and whether it still produces opium entirely without control or accounting. No opium has been exported from Burma to manufacturing countries. In the main, production is for addiction; but some is used for religious ceremonies, offered to the nats by Animists, particularly in Kachin State.

* &rdquoReply to the Questionnaire&rdquo refers to the reply of a Government to the United Nations Questionnaire (despatched 14 April 1947) on the Limitation and Control of the Cultivation of the Opium Poppy and the Production of Raw Opium.

Production in the Shan States (in kilogrammes):[38]





1,640 4,100 4,369
East Manglun
3,123 4,37 4,436
18,258 18,565 9,384
23,021 27,042 18,189

Estimated production in 1946:

3,265 kg.[37]
13,061[37] *
18.410 **
34,736 kg ***

* The reply refers to cultivation introduced into West Manglun. By the Japanese. It is not quite clear whether the estimate applies to West Manglun only or to the whole of Manglun. The latter is assumed to be the case.

** No estimate is given in the reply for Kokang, but widespread cultivation in the area is mentioned, therefore an estimate corresponding to the 1937-38 production is taken.

*** Production in several other areas is menfioned [37] ,though no figures are given. Hence the total may be taken as about 35 tons.

Thailand has considerable opium addiction. In 1938 there were nearly 60,000 known opium smokers, besides those drawing supplies from illicit sources. In that year the Government used 36 tons of raw opium in the manufacture of smoking opium, as well as. 8.5 tons of prepared opium seized or returned for re-manufacture, and 2 tons of opium dross. [39] On the average from 1933 to 1938 the monopoly manufactured some 51 tons per year of prepared opium; the official figures show an average legal consumption of prepared opium, over a ten-year period, 1930 to 1939, of more than 32 tons per year. [31b] Seizures in 1938 amounted to 1,867 kg. of raw and prepared opium and dross; in 1936 more than 4.5 tons had been seized and it was considered probably safe to say that the quantities of illicit opium smuggled far exceeded the sales of monopoly opium. The illicit opium was said to come chiefly from China and the Shan States. [39] There have been no reports since 1939. Prior to 1938 the only production in the country was referred to as &rdquoclandestine&rdquo. This production, in the wild and mountainous frontier region, was considered small and was subject to repressive action - destruction of the crop when found, seizure of opium, etc.-but it could not be suppressed. In 1933 a plan was started for bringing this production under Government control, and 571 kg. were produced under control. The controlled production of 1939-1940 was reported as 2,088 kg. [40] No more official information is available. The only recent information seems to he a declaration by the representative of the United States at the 1948 meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. He stated that the northern hill tribes in Siamese territory were said to produce 84,000 to 112,000 kg. of raw opium annually, of which only 30 per cent was distributed legally. The remainder was smuggled into Bankok, Burma and China. [23b]






Area Under Cultivation (Hectares)

Estimated Total Production (kg.)

Domestic Opium (kg.)

Imported Opium Year (kg.)

1937 10,000
26,172 29.252
1938 10,000
11,601 65.548
1939 10,000
3,996 13.341
1940 10.000
9,325 66,059
1941 20,000
27,966 39.766
1942 20,000
1943 25,000
1944 25,000
1945 25,000
1946 20,000

French Indo-China is another country. With much opium addiction. On the average over a period of ten years the monopoly manufactured nearly 47.5 tons of prepared (smoking) opium per year, and on the average nearly 47 tons per year were legally consumed. [31b] The greater part of the raw opium used for this manufacture was imported. Seizures were large; in 1937 and 1938 approximately a ton to a ton and a half; in 1936 nearly 7 tons said to be chiefly from Yunnan. [41] ,[42] During the war imports were cut off but domestic production expanded and in 1943 and 1944 some 46 to 47 tons of domestic opium were yearly used for the manufacture of smoking opium. [16] After the war, in 1948, some 49 tons were imported from Iran. (The showing of two such shipments in the reply of Iran is an error.) However, the present policy is to end the legal sale of opium in Indo-China by the end of 1953; to this end sales will he reduced by 20 per-cent annually the sales for 1944 being taken as a basis; and allowances to European smokers are to be ended by the end of 1949. [33] Production in Indo - China is in Upper Tonkin and Laos, in regions of rugged mountains and almost impenetrable forests. The poppy is grown by the Yaos and Meos tribes and occasionally by the Khas. The fields are small and scattered in the mountains; the yield is said to he rather low, only 3 to 4 kg. per hectare. This information is given in the reply to the Questionnaire on production of raw opium but the statistical table in the same reply shows an even lower estimate of yield; only some 2 to 3 kg. per hectare. [16] The tribesmen themselves consume a large part of the opinion they produce and a really accurate determination of the total production is not possible Before the war the official production meant the quantities purchased by the monopoly. The estimates in the reply to the Questionnaire for total production (reproduced below) would seem to be minimal, if the estimated areas under cultivation in the various years are approximately correct. In 1945 and 1946 political conditions; made Government purchases impossible, and the manufacture of smoking opium was completely 'interrupted from May 1945 to December 1946. In 1947, 1,362 kg. of Laos opium were purchased, and in 1948, 5,437 kg. from Laos and Tonkin. [33] The figures on page 29 are-from the reply to the Questionnaire. [16]

China. Production and non-medical consumption of opium are completely illegal in China, hence there are no statistics relating to present conditions. This has been the case for the last ten years. Statistics for the years 1934 to 1939 relate to a period during which a programme of elimination of permitted production was carried out. The intermediate statistics no longer have practical significance, but figures from at or near the beginning of the period still have an interest as maxima. They no longer, of course, reflect present conditions, but they show, roughly, the degree of addiction and the quantity of production existing in China only 15 years ago. They provide a back- ground for understanding present conditions, the evaluation of which can be only superficially presented here. In 1934 the areas of permitted production totalled nearly 236,000 hectares. The production figures were obtained in Chinese ounces, and are subject to certain discrepancies, partly owing to belated returns and partly to different conversion factors. According to the Annual Report of 1937, the production in 1934 was some 5,855 metric tons, but according to the conversion equivalent earlier given, and that stated in books of reference, it would have been some 7,000 metric tons. This officially permitted production was confined to the provinces of Szechwan, Ningsia, Shensi, Kansu, Suiyuan, Kweichow and Yunnan. [43] In 1936 at the meeting of the Opium Advisory Committee of the League of Nations, the representative of the United States gave a summary of an investigation of total Chinese production, province by province, which led to the total production for 1935 being estimated at a minimum of 12,261 tons, up to a maximum of 18,000 tons. Eight other provinces were mentioned as producers, in addition to the seven of permitted production under the reduction programme. [44] It should be noted that this included some provinces over which the Chinese Government had little or no authority, in particular the three provinces of Manchuria, and Jehol, which were al- ready under Japanese influence. Open war with Japan broke out in 1937.

In 1936 the attempt was begun to register the opium smokers. The Annual Report pointed out that it had been found extremely difficult to get the smokers to come forward for registration, especially as they realized that the Government intended to force them to take a cure, or, even if they qualified for official opium, to cut off their supplies within a few years. However, in 1937, the smokers who had been registered numbered 4,160,285. [43] China is an opium-consuming country and, even when legally producing vast quantities of opium, did not export any commercially. Some was smuggled out, but usually much more was smuggled in for Chinese consumption.

For the past ten years the Chinese Government has done its best toward complete suppression of opium production and opium addiction. Civil disorders, the war with Japan and the civil war with the Communists have interfered. In the provinces under Japanese rule during the war opium production was encouraged, and even forced upon the peasants. Drug addiction was spread amongst the people- There were over a million known addicts in Japanese-controlled areas at the end of the war. [43a ] Then came the conflict with the Communists. They have been accused by the Nationalist Government of encouraging opium production and opium smoking. It is believed that the Chinese Communists claim that production in the areas they control is only to meet their medical needs, especially those of their armies. At any rate, if they try to suppress opium addiction, they are subject to the same handicaps as the Nationalist Government. It would not be surprising if in areas imperfectly controlled, or not controlled at all by either Government, conditions were to return to the same level as in 1934.

Such is the background of China's; opium predicament. As the civil war still continues, it is difficult to evaluate the present situation, but some notes will be offered indicating where illicit opium is most likely to he produced, and the extent of illicit cultivation. There is seldom any production in the great eastern provinces, the most densely populated regions, the home of Chinese civilization. Except when some local military authorities (Yunnan) may surreptitiously favour opium cultivation, it is not now a very open thing, but is located largely in mountainous, backward regions. In 1934-35 the permitted production was in China's great &rdquoMiddle West” and even then it was conceded that there was no production worth mentioning in the following, twelve eastern provinces: Kwangsi, Kwangtung, Fukien, Chekiang, Kiangsi, Hupeh, Anhwei, Kiangsu, Honan, Shansi, Hopeh and Shantung. [44] In addition, as recently as May 1948, press reports indicated that most of Shensi - all but the northernmost part - had been cleared of opium production by the Nationalist governor (Over 34,000 hectares of poppy cultivation were destroyed in Shensi in 1947). [43] On the other hand, production was said to be rife in Sikang in 1948. The reply of China to the, Questionnaire on Opium Production stated, &rdquoin some remote regions such as the mountainous boundaries between Shensi and Szechuan Provinces and on the larger and smaller Lian-Shan Mountains lying across Szechuan and Sikang Provinces where an uncivilized tribe called Yee-ming Race are crowded, the clandestine cultivation of opium is still prevalent.&rdquo [45] This reply particularly mentioned successful crop substitution in Hupeh Province in 1932 to 1934; and also substitution of Indian corn, beans and cotton for opium in Kansu Province. There seems still to be tremendous production in Yunnan. The Shan States of southern Yunnan are a wild, mountainous, semi-independent district, inhabited by the same race as inhabits Laos in Indo-China and the Shan States of Burma. A considerable part of Yunnan's production is there. At the 1948 meeting of the Narcotics Commission, the representative of the United States referred to a report concerning 1,500 kg. of opium purchased by Thailand from illicit traffickers in Yunnan, and an additional 1,200 kg. which the traffickers attempted to smuggle from Yunnan to Thailand. This smuggling was apparently not all in one direction, as four months earlier, in the preceding year (1947), the Chinese Government had seized two tons of opium on an aeroplane coming from Thailand. [23c ] The Annual Report of China for 1946 showed the destruction of 24,197 hectares of illicit poppy cultivation of which 20,000 were in Szechwan alone. No reports were made from Yunnan, Jehol, Kweichow or Ningsia in that year. The destruction of 20,000 hectares in Szechwan was so far from clearing up the situation that more than 293,000 hectares were destroyed in the same province in 1947. The total destruction of cultivation in 1947, according to the Report, covered 719,319 hectares, the greater Part .in the provinces of Szechwan, Chahar (64,413 hectares), Yunnan (44,520), Shensi (34,283), Shansi (8,240), Kweichow (6,780), Kansu (6,395) and Suiyuan (1,113). This destruction is so enormous that one fears there may be some mistake, as when, in the 1940 and 1941 Reports, decimal points were omitted that had been used in previous years in the hectares column. At any rate the continuance into 1947 of a very extensive illicit cultivation is shown. In 1947 the Permanent Central Opium Board stated, &rdquoChina may still be well at the head of the list of opium-producing countries.&rdquo [46] A general clearing-up of the situation must await the end of the civil war.

The USSR, before the last war, had restricted opium production to the autonomous republics of Kirghiz and Kazakstan. No Annual Reports have been received since 1937. and possibly Tannu-Tuva, formerly the northernmost part of Mongolia, may he classified as an opium-producing region. Kazakstan is the. second largest Republic of the Soviet Union, but largely desert, and in practice the opium production allowed there is only in the region adjacent to the Kirghiz Republic and the Sinkiang border. The main producing region is called by the Russians Semirechye; it is south-eastward from Lake Balkhash, and is part of the territory sometimes called Russian Turkestan. This area is right in the heart of the continent. It is not so very far north and cast from Kashmir and eastern Afghanistan and, as already mentioned, borders Sinkiang, sometimes called Chinese Turkestan. Russian writers mention particularly the outliers of the Tian-Shan, Tarbagatai and Alatau mountains, as places of cultivation. The last name in somewhat variously applied. The Terskei Alatau are south, the Kunghei and Trans-ili Alatau north of Lake Issyk-kul in the Kirghiz Republic- These are subsidiary ranges of the great Tian-Shan system. The Dzungarian Alatau border the gate of the Dzungarian depression, north of the Tian-Shan. In Semirechye the Tian-Shan subspecies of poppy is chiefly grown. This is a dwarf race that barely comes above the knees of the cultivators, whereas the European varieties of Papaver somniferum probably average shoulder-high. [47]

The opium is used entirely for medical and manufacturing purposes. In general the production just about meets the needs of the USSR; how- ever, there are great variations in the amount produced. The reports showed a variation from more than 102 tons in 1930 (highest) down to some 23 tons in 1933 (lowest). The ten year average, 1929 to 1938, was some 70 tons. Both the area planted and that actually harvested were stated from 1929 to 1935; the averages were: planted, about 13,100 hectares; harvested, about 8,900 hectares. [25] The USSR sometimes imports and sometimes exports some opium. In 1946, a poor crop year in Semirechye, 19,500 kg. were imported from Yugoslavia. [15] In 1947 there were exported 7,400 kg. [48]

The USSR is one of the chief countries of the world for the manufacture of morphine and other narcotic drugs from opium.

The last Annual Reports received showed the existence of a sizeable illicit traffic in certain border regions, those adjoining Iran, Afghanistan and China. Over 3.8 tons were seized in 1934 and over 2 tons in 1937, the last year reported. No post-war information on this traffic is available.

The following figures show the pre-war areas and seizures, [25] , [49] and both pre-war and post-war production and opium used for the manufacture of morphine. [25] , [48]


Area (hectares)

Production (Kg.)

Opium used for manufacture of morphine (Kg.)

Seizures (Kg.)

1934 10,291 42,813 30,392 3,838
1935 10,24 94,645 41,076 2,257
1936 9,707 90,460 73,215 1,622
1937 10,000 85,280 75,150 2,131
62,271 76,950
27,000 41,079
73,000 71,827


Mongolian. People's Republic. No recent or official information is available. It is only known that opium was produced here, and some of it was sold to the Japanese during the period that Japan controlled Manchuria.

Full size image: 12 kB

Korean opium-of rubbery consistence when fresh.

Official UN photo

Full size image: 20 kB

Japanese opium-very course and block, but high in morphine content (over 15 per cent).

Korea is at present divided into two separate administrative units. South Korea and North Korea. The greater part of the population is in South Korea, but the greater part, about 85 per cent, of the opium production was in North Korea. No post-war information is available, however, concerning production in North Korea. Korea under the Japanese was an opium exporting Country. The exports went to non-manufacturing countries - Kwantung Leased Territory (in China), Manchuria and Formosa - for addiction purposes, i.e., opium smoking. The Koreans themselves are not addicted to opium smoking, but there is some drug addiction among them, and also &rdquoquasi-medical" opium eating. [50] From 1937 to 1944 there was an average production of 34.5 tons yearly and an average exportation from 1937 to 1943 of some 33 tons. The small difference would not seem sufficient to account for the drugs manufactured within Korea by the Japanese. However, the Seoul factory used an ammonium chloride process for obtaining morphine, which left some 4 per cent morphine in the opium residue. This residue was then mixed with good opium and sold to Formosa and Manchuria. There was much illicit traffic in the country. Opium was grown secretly in the more remote, mountainous areas, and many of the opium farmers diverted part of their crop to illicit channels. In 1944 over 5 tons of opium were confiscated by the authorities. [50] With the occupation at the end of the war, opium production was forbidden in South Korea (the American Zone). The prohibition, at last accounts, was not very successful. The Annual Report for 1946 noted: &rdquoMany of the farmers are illiterate and may not have been aware of the new prohibition. It is known that considerable opium was produced; however, there is no way to estimate how much it may have been, or what disposition was made of it. The most of it was perhaps consumed in South Korea.&rdquo [51] The Report indicated that the authorities had had little time to enforce prohibition of poppy cultivation, and most of the production was in remote and mountainous areas. The reply to the Questionnaire indicates that prohibition of poppy culture may not he a permanent policy for Korea. &rdquoThe economic stability of Korea depends greatly upon her exportable commodities . . . opium is one of the comparatively few items that can be exported. The land upon which poppy is grown is not very adaptable for food crops. The &rdquofamily system&rdquo of farming practised here provides an abundance of inexpensive labour. However, until such time as Korea may be designated an opium-producing country, farmers will he advised of the prohibition and they will be urged to grow millet, beans and potatoes on the land." [16 ] The desires and policy of the new Korean Government are not yet known.



Area (hectares)

Production (Kg)

Exports (Kg)

1937 2,556 27,608
1938 5,007
1939 6,590 26,702
1940 7,293 32,929
1941 8,432 50,735
1942 6,665 25,971
1943 7,503
1944 7,624 36,178
Not available
6,459 34,530 33,073



Area (hectares)

Opium collected (kilogrammes)

South Korea
1,545 5,698
North Korea
5,959 34,735
7,504 40.433

Japan has almost ceased to he an opium-producing country in any sense. Cultivation of the poppy is prohibited under the occupation, and there were only four cases of illicit cultivation discovered in 1947. The individuals were prosecuted and fined although they claimed they were not aware of the prohibition. [53] From 1937 to 1943, about 20,4 tons of opium were produced yearly, on the average. The entire amount was used for the manufacture of drugs and medicinal opium. Japanese pharmaceutical companies also processed poppy chaff into pharmaceutical extracts and powders, but did ,not extract pure morphine or other alkaloids from it. [16] Opium production was only on the island of Honshu, chiefly near Osaka and Wakayama. Because of Japans violations of international narcotic laws, before and during the war, it is intended that Japanese production of narcotics shall not he permitted. The following figures of opium production are from the reply made to the Questionnaire by U.S. occupation authorities: [16]


Area (hectares)

(Kg) Production

1937 2,036 21,213
1938 1,572 16,455
1939 1,481 27,203
1940 1,310 24,435
1941 1,159 19,411
1942 1,931 16,242
1943 1,512 17,970
1944 9,076 9,650
1945 1,885 9,100


Mexico has a problem of illegal production, which apparently only began about 1937. The Annual Report of 1933 mentions the discovery of a planting of opium poppies in Sonora. In 1939 there were a -number of seizures of opium which probably had a domestic origin. In 1940 the discovery of three plantings in Sonora covering 25 hectares was mentioned; in 1942 plantings were discovered in Sinaloa, and in 1943 the opium seized was said to have its origin in Sonora, Sinaloa, Duringo and Lower California. In 1944 the destruction of 276 planted areas covering 48 hectares, in Sonora and Sinaloa, was noted in the Annual Report. [54] The illicit cultivation seems to have been started, in part at least, to supply resident Chinese with local opium. But with the war the ordinary supply sources of illicit opium were cut off, and gangsters and illicit traffickers of the United States turned to Mexico for supplies, and became the principal customers. The actual producers are mostly Indian farmers who grow small plots of poppies. In 1944 the plantings were chiefly in river valleys, but by 1948, in consequence of the Governmental campaigns against opium cultivation, they had moved into places such as canyons, ravines, and mountain ridges, inaccessible by any ordinary roads. The opium is seldom smuggled in its natural raw state. Either it is converted into smoking opium-generally highly adulterated-and smuggled in that form, or the morphine is extracted and converted to heroin in clandestine laboratories. Usually the Mexicans do not. smuggle either product, but sell to U.S. traffickers in Mexico. When the United Nations, took up the international narcotic problems, Mexican opium production was a grave problem to the United States. Narcotics Administration. The matter was brought up at the first session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, in 1946. The Annual Report of Mexico for that year referred to illicit cultivation in Lower California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Sinaloa and Durango. The representative of Mexico to the Narcotics Commission added a reference to Jalisco. [55] Cultivation has probably spread to Nayarit and Guerrero also. [56] At the second session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs the representative of the United States made a statement based on an aerial survey by Mexican officials and a representative of the United States. It was estimated that the poppy fields then numbered close to 10,000, averaging one-half hectare or more per field. The total area under poppy cultivation was estimated at between 4,000 and 5,000 hectares, producing from 32 to 40 metric tons of opium. [57] At the proposal of the United States' representative, the Commission requested the Economic and Social Council that the Mexican Government be asked to intensify its efforts to suppress opium production, and this has been done. At the following meeting the Mexican campaigns against opium cultivation were praised. The Annual Reports of Mexico for 1947 and 1948 show the destruction of poppy plants on comparatively small areas. However, the success of the campaigns cannot be solely judged by this. The campaigns of destruction of the plants, and judicial penalties against the violators, induce many farmers besides those directly affected to abandon opium culture. The remaining plantings are driven deep into the mountains, as noted in the Annual Report of 1948. Moreover, opium from some other countries is now available in the illicit traffic. For these reasons the illicit production in Mexico has doubtless declined greatly, but it is not possible to give an up-to-date estimate. The last two Annual Reports do not correspond exactly to the calendar years, as the campaigns are carried on through the winter. The Report for 1947 mentions the destruction of 663 poppy fields, covering some 135 hectares, and the confiscation of 99 kg. of raw opium. The Report for 1948 mentions the destruction of 666 poppy fields, covering some 270 hectares, and the seizures of about 99 kg. of opium. [54]


Argentina has experimented with the production of opium in recent years without much success, but few details are available In 1945 poppies were cultivated on 120 hectares and 15 kg. of opium produced. The equivalent of 60 kg. of morphine was produced, but chiefly obtained from &rdquopoppy straw&rdquo. In 1946 there was a crop failure, according to the Annual Report. The figures of the Permanent Central Opium Board show 15 kg. opium produced, but this is probably the production assigned by the Annual Report to the preceding year. The report of the Permanent Central Opium Board gives a figure of 2,000 kg. produced in Argentina-in 1947, but this seems to be a clerical error.

Chile experimented with opium production for a number of yearn,, adding some experimentation on the extraction of morphine from the dried poppy capsules in 1943. The quantity of opium produced was never large and it was generally of poor quality. The experiments were abandoned in 1946. The following figures are from the reply to the Questionnaire and Annual Reports [37] ,[58] as submitted by the Chilean Government:


Area (hectares)

Opium produced (Kg)

Percentage of morphine

1936 4 13 11,74
1937 7 16,6 18
1938 6 39,3 6,25
1940 38 39
1941 70 275,67 5,66
1942 100 343 6,5
1943 100
no opium
25,990 Kg poppy capsules

* These figures are from the reply to the Questionnaire. The Annual Report for 1943 states the production in late 1942 of 1.048 KT latex of 1 to 9% morphine, of which 705 kg were used to manufacture morphine and the remainder to produce the 80 kg opium. The Annual Report for 1944 states The production in late 1943 of 39.48 kg raw opium, 140 kg of latex. and 25 tons dried poppy capsules. The Annual Report for 1946 states that 46 kg of latex were obtained and then dried, and that only 60 hectares were cultivated.


The general survey presented in this article has been confined to the countries of opium production. No attempt was made to consider the opium problem as a whole with all its implications: practically nothing has been said about the beneficient use of opium in the manufacture of narcotic drugs needed to meet medical requirements in all parts of the world; nor has anything been said about the problems of opium addiction in various countries which do not produce opium. These and other questions constitute what is known as the &rdquoopium problem.&rdquo They will be examined in special surveys to be published in later issues of the Bulletin on Narcotics.

Even within the limits of this article one fact above all emerges: opium, its production and use, is world-wide problem. The limitation of its production and the control of its distribution so that its use in all countries and territories of the world may he restricted solely to medical and scientific needs are still unsolved problems. The solution of the &rdquoopium problem&rdquo, as the experience in the field of manufactured drugs has conclusively shown, is possible only by a co-operative effort of all Governments, bound by an international treaty concluded under the auspices of the United Nations and entrusting to this organization the supervision of its application.



The Opium Poppy and Other Poppies. U.S. Treasury Department, Bureau of Narcotics, Washington, D.C, 1944.


France, Annual Report, 1937.


Melville, Ronald. "Cultivation and Food Value of the Oil Poppy." Garden Chronicle, vol. 109 (3rd series), p. 54 (1941).


Machiguchi, Eizo. "Contribution to the Study of Japanese Opium." Journal of the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan, 529, 185-228 (1926).


Tunis, Annual Reports, 1940, 1941, 1944, 1945, 1947.


D'Erlanger, Harry, baron. The Last Plague of Egypt. L. Dickson & Thompson, Ltd, London (1936).


Egypt, Annual Reports, 1937 to 1948.


Spain, Annual Reports, 1944 and 1945.


Italy, Annual Reports, 1935 and 1936.


Du Chaliot, Carlo, and Marongiu, Sininnio. "Opium obtained in Sardinia". Bulletin chim. farm. 86, 233-37 (1947).


Germany, U.S. Zone, Annual Report 1946.


(a) Kroeber, Ludwig. "Zur Frage der Opiumgewinnung und Morphinerzeugung in Dentschland" (The production of morphine and opium in- Germany). Die Pharmazie I , 314-318H (1946).

(b) Berger, H. "Bericht über einen Versuch der Roh- Opiumgewinnung" (An experiment in obtaining raw opium). Die Pharmazie I, 319. (1946).


Hungary, Annual Reports 1935-1943, 1946-1947.


Report on the Work of the Permanent Central Opium Board, E/OB/4, 1948.


Yugoslavia, Annual Reports, 1935-1938, 1946, 1947.


Replies to the Questionnaire on Limitation and Control of the Cultivation of the Opium Poppy, etc, document E/CN.7/107, 6 April 1948.


Bulgaria, Annual Reports, 1935-1939, 1947.


Greece, Annual Reports, 1935-1938, 1946, 1497.


Turkey, Annual Report, 1947.


Report of the fourth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, p. 20.


Summary Records of the fourth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. E/CN.7/SR/W.84, pp. 3, 6; SR/W.94, p. 6.


Iran, Annual Report, 1936.


Summary Records of the third session, Commission on Narcotic Drugs, E/CN.7/155, (a) p. 65; (h) p. 113; (c) p. 83.


Limitation of the Production of Raw Materials, Reply of the Government of Iran to the Questionnaire on Opium, E/CN.7/107. Add. 6, 10 May 1949.


Bensussan, Ihno J. L'Opium, Vigot Frères, Paris, 1946.


Addens, T. J. The Distribution of Opium Cultivation and the Trade in Opium. (In English.) Haarlem, 1939.


Annual Reports, Indian States, 1938-1942, 1944, 1945. (The figures, in the text have been converted to the metric system.)


See the statement by the delegate of India, Commission on Narcotic Drugs, fourth session, E/CN.7/SR/W.84.


Records of the Second Opium Conference, Geneva, 1925. Vol. 11, pages 284 and 286; also Vol. I, page 490.


Indian States, Annual Report for 1945, E/NR.1945/31/- Add.1, page 15.


Synoptic Statistical Tables, League of Nations, document 1942.XI.1, (C.76.M.76.1942Xl.). (a) Table I, (h) Tables X and XL (c) Table II.


India, Annual Reports, 1937 to 1947.


Abolition of Opium Smoking in the Far East, Reply of the French Government regarding Indo-China, E/CN.7/165/Add. 2, 23 May 1949.


Abolition of Opium Smoking in the Far East, Communication dated 10 February 1949, from the Government of Iran, E/CN.7/156, Rev. 1, 16 March 1949.


Burma, Annual Report, 1946.


Burma and the Shan States, Annual Reports by Governments concerning Prepared Opium, 1936 to 1940.


Limitation of Production of Raw Materials, Replies of the Governments of Burma and Chile to the Questionnaire, E/CN.7/107, Add. 5, 9 March 1949.


Burma, Annual Reports, 1937, 1938, 1939.


Thailand (Siam). Annual Reports by Governments concerning Prepared Opium, 1936, 1937, 1938.


Thailand, Annual Reports, 1937, 1938, 1939.


Indo-China, Annual Reports by Governments concerning Prepared Opium, 1936, 1937.


Indo-China, Annual Report, 1938.


China, Annual Reports, 1935 to 1947 (A single report was issued for 1943-45). (a) E/NR.1945/15/Add. 1, 20 May 1947.


Advisory Committee on Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs, Minutes of the twenty-first session, 1936.XI.17 (C.290.M.176.1936.XI), page 63.


Limitation of the Production of Raw Materials, Reply of the Government of China, E/CN.7/107/Add. 3, 1 May 1948.


Report on the Work of the Permanent Central Opium Board, Geneva, E/OB/2, November 1947.


See particularly, Basilevskaya, Nina A. "On the Races of the Opium Poppy growing in Semiretchye, and the Origin of their Culture," Trudy Prikl. Hot, Gen. i Sel. 19 (2): 95-184 (1928). Bulletin of Applied Botany, Genetics and Plant Breeding (Russian, with English summary, pp. 170-184).


Memorandum on the Desirability of Convening a Conference for the Purpose of Reaching an Interim Agreement Limiting the Production and Export of Opium to Medical and Scientific Needs. E/CN.7/W.52, 12 May 1949.


USSR, Annual Reports, 1935, 1936, 1937.


Report of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Supplement No. 1 to Economic and Social Council Official Records. Second year, fourth session. Annex IV, part. Ill, pp. 46-51, Statement in regard to the narcotics situation in Korea.


South Korea Interim Government, Annual Report, 1946.


Japan. Annual Reports for Chosen (Korea) 1937 and Tyosen (Korea) 1938.


Japan, Annual Report (Communicated by the United States of America), 1947.


Mexico. Annual Reports, 1937 to 1944, and 1946, 1947, 1943.


Commission on Narcotic Drugs,, Revised minutes, of the first session, E/CN.7/75, page 42.


"Opium Producing Areas of the World and Kinds of Opium," E/CN.7/W.36.


Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Summary Records of the second session, pages 65-66.


Chile, Annual Reports, 1936 to 1939, and 1941 to 1946


Argentina. Annual Reports, 1945, 1946.


Document E/OB/W.88 1 June 1949, Permanent Central Opium Board, Discrepancies in Stocks.


Commission of Enquiry into the Control of Opium-Smoking in the Far East, Report to the Council, Volume II, page 41. (C.635.M.254.1930.XI.Vol. II).


Letter dated 18 June 1949 from the representative of Iran to the Secretary-General, E/CN.7/157, 6 July 1949.