If the government intends to ban arecanut on health grounds it should also ban sugar, liquor and maida which are harmful to health, said Manchi Srinivasa Achar, president, All India Areca Growers’ Association and Editor ‘Adike Pathrike’, a Kannada farm monthly, Puttur here on Tuesday.

Speaking on ‘SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity and trend) analysis of arecanut’ at a programme organised by The Institution of Engineers he claimed that liquor, sugar and maida were more harmful to health than arecanut.

Consumption of arecanut alone was not harmful to health. People have been using it for years and were maintaining good health, he claimed.

Mr. Achar said that banning arecanut was not a practical proposition as about 20 crore people consumed it and 30 lakh families cultivated it. About one crore people indirectly depended on the arecanut sector.

Mr. Achar said that there was a need to promote more value added products of arecanut such as its mouth freshener and digestive products.

He said that arecanut was probably the only crop which accommodated many intercrops like cocoa, banana, pineapple, pepper, cardamom and papaya in its plantation.

The president said that arecanut growers were facing the acute shortage of skilled workers and farm labourers. On the other hand youth from agriculture families were drifting away from farming. Youth from arecanut families which once were most sought after for marriage proposals were not being preferred now.

He said that though dwarf, tissue cultured and early yielding varieties of arecanut have been released by the Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI), Kasaragod in terms of taste they did not match with the traditional ones preferred by the consumers especially in North India.

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