Gutka ban: Areca growers look for other avenues

Gutka ban: Areca growers look for other avenues

Gutka ban: Areca growers look for other avenues

Govt should set up areca board and promote research on alternative uses of the drupe, says expert.

As the State government remains firm on its decision to ban the manufacture and sale of gutka and pan masala, areca growers in Malnad region look for other uses of the drupe so that they carry on its cultivation.

Agricultural and horticultural scientists say the government should promote research on the alternative uses of arecanut. This way, it can protect the farmers’ interests as well as public health.

The proposed ban would first lead to a drastic reduction in prices of areca nut. A large portion of arecanut grown in about 15 districts of the State is used in the manufacture of gutka. They, however, disagree with the government that arecanut grown in the State in general and in Malnad region in particular is not used for the manufacture of gutka.

Unlike other crops, arecanut doesn’t have a brand name. Arecanut grown in Shimoga, Chitradurga, Uttara Kannada, Chickmagalur, Davangere and other districts is not branded. Most of it is used to manufacture gutka; hence farmers are worried a lot.
B R Gurumurthy, an areca scientist, says arecanut can be used in the paint industry as well as in the processing of rubber.

Raw arecanuts are rich in tannin, a chemical compound. Besides, arecanut is used to treat diabetes under the diareca-ayurvedic medicine. Arecanut also comes handy in the manufacture of wine, and the treatment of tapeworms in dogs and cattle, and intestinal problems in horses.

According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, areca seed has pungent, bitter and warm properties, and is associated with the large intestine and stomach meridians.
Its main function is to kill such intestinal parasites as tapeworms, pinworms and round worms, reduce stagnation, and promote urination.

It treats a variety of conditions such as abdominal distension, constipation, diarrhea, malaria, and intestinal problems. “The potential for extensive research on the uses of arecanut is immense,” Gurumurthy told Deccan Herald.

The initiative, however, should be taken by the government. Setting up of an areca board, on the lines of Tobacco Board, can be the solution to the problem of uncontrolled production of areca nut and the expansion in its area of cultivation.

Arecanut is grown on irrigated land, in clear violation of the rules. The unscientific increase in the area of arecanut cultivation affects the prices. An areca board could check such violation, Gurumurthy added.

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