Context: Dried areca nuts, which attract 100% import duty the legal way, have been smuggled in from Myanmar over the past few years. Mizoram’s farmers are battling to protect their livelihoods from this threat.
- The arecanut palm yields the widely recognized chewing nut, commonly referred to as betel nut or Supari.
- It holds significant cultural and religious importance, particularly among the populace of India.
- The cultivation of arecanut is mostly confined to 28º north and south of the equator.
- It grows well within the temperature range of 14ºC and 36ºC.
- It is adversely affected by temperatures below 10ºC and above 40ºC.
- Altitude should not be more than 1000m.
- Arecanut requires abundant and well distributed rainfall.
- It grows well in tracts, where annual showers may go up to or even more than 4500 mm.
- But it also survives in low rainfall areas having 750 mm annual precipitation.
- During prolonged dry spell palms should be irrigated.
- Arecanut cultivation was predominant in gravelly laterite soils of red clay type of Southern Kerala and Coastal Karnataka.
- Laterite, red loam, and alluvial soils are most suitable.
Varieties of Betel Nut:
In India there are two varieties of areca nut.
- White variety
- Red variety.
- The white areca nut is produced by harvesting the fully ripe nuts and then subjecting them to sun drying for about 2 months.
- In the red variety, the green areca nut is harvested, boiled and then its exterior husk is removed.
Production of Areca Nuts in India
- India is the major producer of arecanut which accounts for 50% of production and 43% area under arecanut in the world.
- The last three years’ average production in India indicated that Karnataka was the major producer with a 79% share in Indian production followed by Kerala (7%) and Assam (4%).
- Coastal districts such as Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada and Udupi are the major producers in Karnataka.
- India’s share of export of arecanut in the global market is less than five per cent while the share of Indian arecanut import is around 22 per cent (2020).
- An import duty of 100% is levied on arecanut in India. But the least developed SAARC countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, and Afghanistan are exempted from paying this duty.
- To safeguard the farmers, the Indian government introduced the Minimum Import Price (MIP), import of arecanut below which is prohibited.
- The MIP imposition restricts unabated import, prevents entry of inferior quality produce, and helps to stabilizes domestic prices.