Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said she has written to the Centre to allow poppy cultivation in West Bengal so that people of the state can enjoy the delicacies prepared with it. Speaking in the assembly, 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 will it not be cultivated in West Bengal, despite it being on our menu every day?" she asked. "Why will we have to purchase posto from other states at high prices? Why will West Bengal not get permission of cultivating posto here? I will ask members of the opposition to write to the Centre on it," she added.
Banerjee said that not all poppies are drugs. "We have said that we will cultivate it in agriculture farms, we have several such farms. If we can grow poppy in our state 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. West Bengal has been trying to get permission for the cultivation of the highly-regulated crop as poppy seeds are integral to the Bengali cuisine. Banerjee was speaking on budget discussions relating to the Food and Supplies Department.
"Our farmers are earning better now. They are earning four-fold now. Our scientists have done some research work, which helped us in several ways. I had given them this idea. Politically, a few people think I am an idiot. This is my bad luck that I am not acceptable to them," she said. Banerjee said that as the Centre gave tax relief to basmati, it should extend similar benefits to gobindobhog and tulaipanji varieties of rice produced in West Bengal.