Rising areca prices bring little cheer to Malnad farmers

Rising areca prices bring little cheer to Malnad farmers

The rising prices of areca nut have not brought any cheers to the traditional growers in the Malnad region, who say they have “nothing” to sell as the crop has been lost to Kole Roga, the fruit rot disease.

As per the website of Karnataka State Agricultural Marketing Board, the price of Saraku (a variety of areca nut) hovered at Rs 37,480 in Shimoga on October 3 and Rs 36,509 in Thirthahalli market. The prices are likely to go up further in the near future, traders say.

But there is little cheer for the farmers. Even growers in Chitradurga and Davangere districts have failed to make profit as the areca nut harvesting season has just begun and they would need at least two months to bring their produce to the market.

Nevertheless, big farmers who have stocked their produce in warehouses are making large profits following the price rise. Such farmers, however, are few in Shimoga district which is dominated by small-scale growers.

Put simply, the record high prices are not benefiting the traditional growers. Even if prices remain high in the next months, farmers are not likely to make profits, courtesy of Kole Roga which has destroyed crops in Thirthahalli, Sagar and Hosanagar taluks in Shimoga district, Koppa, Sringeri and N R Pura taluks in Chikmagalur district.

As much as 50 per cent of the crop has been lost to Kole Roga in Shimoga, Uttara Kannada and Chikmagalur districts this year.

In Shimoga district, growers would need years to get a good yield. The three-member Central team that visited the rain-affected parts of district recently confirmed that areca crop is severely damaged due to Kole Roga and incessant rains.

Causes for rise

B A Ramesh Hegde, the president of District Areca Growers’ Association, said the prices zoomed after the Union government increased the minimum import price for areca nut from Rs 75 to Rs 110 per kg.

“It was the main reason for the price rise. The ban on gutka has nothing to do with it. Growers, however, are unable to make profit as they could not protect their crops from Kole Roga,” he told Deccan Herald.

Prakash Kammaradi, agricultural economist at the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, said that besides the rise in minimum import price, the constant demand for areca nut, the reduced supply and the drought in the last two years in several parts of the State are the major causes for the record high prices.

Gutka sales continue

The sale of gutka has not stopped in the State despite the ban. Though the demand for areca is high, the supply is low. “It is well known that the yield was affected on a large scale in various parts of the State due to drought in the last two years,” Kammaradi explained.

This year, however, the incessant rain in Sagar, Hosanagar and Thirthahalli taluk for almost two months 60 days adversely impacted the crop. On an average, around one lakh quintal of areca is sold in Shimoga. But it has come down drastically in the last two to three years due to these factors, he added.

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