Fields of poppies spanning 200ha have begun germinating in NSW, with the opiates set to tap into the multi-million-dollar medications industry.
Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair says the state’s first poppy crops, planted at five farms in the NSW Central West and the Hunter Valley, have started to germinate ahead of their inaugural October harvest.
It was an agricultural milestone to get the ‘‘green light’’ to safely and securely grow the flowers, he said.
‘‘The opiates extracted from poppies are used for a wide range of conditions, including pain relief, palliative care and anti-addiction medication,’’ Mr Blair said in a statement on Thursday.
‘‘The global demand for poppies is increasing rapidly and at current rates will potentially be worth up to $100million in 10 years.’’
Poppy processing company TPI Enterprises’ Jarrod Ritchie said the five cultivation licences issued to NSW farmers would ensure Australia ‘‘remains a global leader in the supply of essential pain relief medicines’’.
It remains illegal to take, use, sell or grow poppies without a licence in NSW and penalties for possession apply.