Decision to import areca nut from Bhutan: Farmers, traders fear price collapse

Team Udayavani, Oct 1, 2022, 8:31 AM IST

Puttur: The union government’s decision to import 17,000 tonnes of raw areca nut every year from Bhutan to India, without minimum import price restrictions, has created panic in the areca nut market.

The central government’s decision comes at a time when growers were rejoicing at the record high prices for the crop. On Friday, the price per kg of new areca nut in the Mangaluru market fell to Rs 482 whereas old areca nut commanded Rs 565.  At Campco, the new areca nut was being traded at Rs 475, and the old areca nut at Rs 565 per kg.

Earlier, the minimum import price for areca nut was fixed at Rs 251 per kg to check price fluctuations due to imported goods on the domestic markets. However, the government has decided to waive this rule for the imports of areca nut from Bhutan. This has raised fears of a sharp fall in prices among traders as well as growers.

The fears are not without basis. When the government had approved the import of areca nut under the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), domestic areca nut prices in the local markets plummeted. The farmers are worried that such a situation might repeat again.

However, some experts reasoned that the fears are an exaggeration. Areca nut plantation began fairly recently in Bhutan and yields are not very high. Moreover, Bhutan being a landlocked country, goods have to be transported via roads. This increases transportation costs. As the quantity reaching the Indian markets is not significant, it will not have a huge impact on prices, they said.

Meanwhile, President of CAMPCO Kishore Kumar Kodgi said that the apprehensions of the areca nut farmers will be brought to the notice of the Indian government.

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