The price of white arecanut has started to go up in Dakshina Kannada.
According to Manchi Srinivasa Achar, president of Puttur-based All-India Areca Growers' Association, the prices of both old and new stocks of arecanut have gone up by more than Rs. 10 a kg, when compared to their prices during the same period of last year.
Mr. Achar told The Hindu on Sunday that new stocks were now fetching an average of Rs. 90 a kg, compared to Rs. 80 a kg last year. Old stocks, which were sold at an average price of Rs. 90 a kg last year, were now fetching Rs. 100 a kg. Mr. Achar attributed the rising prices partly to the demand for white arecanut by gutka manufacturers and partly due to short supply. Traditionally, gutka manufacturers use red arecanut while white arecanut is mainly used for chewing and by the panwalas. Mr. Achar claimed to have learnt that the price of red arecanut was ruling above that of white arecanut and hence gutka manufacturers had begun using white variety, partly.
Ramesh Kainthaje, a grower, said that early showers in March and April this year had hit many small and marginal farmers. Many of them could not dry the harvested arecanut properly, while some could not stock it as the unexpected rain had drenched the produce during the drying season. Mr. Kainthaje said that the arecanut grown in Vitla, Puttur and Sullia was known for high quality. In Vitla, new stocks fetched up to Rs. 94 a kg and the old up to Rs. 105 a kg on Saturday.
Anantharamakrishna, a progressive farmer from Vitla, said that a private trader offered him Rs. 105 a kg for old stocks at Vitla on Saturday. However, when he contacted a private trader here, he came to know that old stocks were ruling at Rs. 110 a kg. Mr. Anantharamakrishna said that he sold “pathora” variety (a second quality white arecanut having cracks) at Rs. 82 a kg on Saturday.
A committee constituted under the auspices of Arecanut Research and Development Foundation had recently recommended to the Government to fix the production cost of white arecanut at Rs. 114 a kg. However, Mr. D'Souza said that considering the high input cost and labour scarcity, if arecanut cultivation were to remain attractive, farmers should at least get Rs. 150 a kg.
Mr. Kainthaje said that farmers were hoping that the price of new stock would touch Rs. 100 a kg in about a week's time as “navarathri” season would set in.