Poppy growers `nervous'

TASMANIAN poppy growers are feeling insecure about poppy trialling in Victoria and would prefer to see crop storages increased in the state.

Tasmanian Alkaloids, TPI Enterprises and GlaxoSmithKline have been growing opium poppies in Victoria for the past few years to see if there is potential to harvest them commercially.

Tasmania is the only state in Australia that allows poppies to be grown for the commercial production of legal narcotics, such as codeine and morphine.

The companies are conducting trials in Victoria to ensure they have harvest back-up in cases of natural disasters in Tasmania.

However, Cressy farmer David Hingston believes there are other alternatives.

Mr Hingston grows 150 hectares of poppies on his farms Cheriton and Carnarvon.

He initially planted poppies in 1982 as a way to make more money and they have since become his main investment.

He said the fact these companies were trialling in Victoria made him feel insecure.

``Everyone that I know of is dead against it going outside of Tasmania,'' he said.

``It makes you nervous about future investments.''

Mr Hingston said it cost most farmers about $1 million to establish a farm and you wanted to make sure you would be able to make money on it.

``If we can't supply it, I wouldn't have a problem with it, but at the moment I think we can,'' he said.

``I don't think they have explored the option of storage enough.

``It's a bit like setting yourself up for a drought, you fill your barns with hay and your silos with grains and they can do it too.

``All it needs is federal legislation to allow them to store in addition to what they do now.''

Tas Alkaloids field operations manager Rick Rockcliff said the trialling shouldn't threaten Tasmanian growers.

``It's to sustain our position,'' Mr Rockcliff said.

``I don't think it will have a huge impact in the short term.''

He said the trialling was being completed in case of the ``unlikely event of a natural disaster'' like a drought or flood.

``But we'll always be sourcing the bulk of our poppies from Tasmania,'' he said.

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