Creative uses of areca

At a time when market fluctuations have left areca growers an anxious lot, some creative minds have thought of alternative uses of areca. .

Badanaje Shankar Bhat of Dakshina Kannada district concentrated on the medicinal value of areca. After several experiments, he prepared a soap from an extract of areca. Raghavendra Bhat of Hostota village in Siddapur taluk in Uttara Kannada district has prepared garlands out of areca. There is a huge demand for these garlands.

The idea prompted Bhat to undergo training organised by Totagars’ Sale Society and TRC Bank at Sirsi. After the training the Bhat couple started making garlands. Graded areca was drilled with a machine. The couple add an element of colour to the areca and then chemically wash the areca to ensure its durability. In between areca, artificial pearls are twined to enhance the beauty of the garlands. Even wood pieces and bamboo balls are used to enhance the beauty of the garlands.

With the assistance of helpers, the Bhat couple makes 30 garlands every day. Each garland requires 30 dry areca fronds. One kilo gram of areca needs three days for the completion of processing. Ten garlands can be made out of one kilogram of processed areca.

Now Bhat makes 20 different varieties of garlands which costs anywhere between Rs 125 and Rs 200. Chali variety of areca garland costs Rs 150, red areca garland costs Rs 125 while Aapi areca garland costs Rs 200.

Raghavendra Bhat and his wife Veena Bhat also plan to make ear rings, ornaments and door decorations out of areca. He hopes to market areca garlands under the TSS brand name. Garlands used for public functions are made out of regular wood. But using areca garlands has meant following eco-friendly practices, because it does not involve destroying green cover. There is a demand for areca garlands from North Indian states.

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