After witnessing a downward trend last month believed to be due to reports over the Union government’s move to ban areca nut, prices of white areca nut (called chali) have recovered now.

The prices of ‘hale adike’ (old stocks of 2012-13 season harvested between November and March) which were hovering around Rs. 195 per kg till December 10 last month began to drop to reach Rs. 180 a kg in about ten days.

It was after December 10 that media began reporting about a letter (of September 6, 2013) written by an official of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India “…requesting to examine the scientific evidences on the harmful effects of areca nut with a view to initiating necessary action to classify areca nut as an injurious substance and accordingly prohibit its use as ingredient in any food product.”

Following this there were debates and protests over the move to ban areca nut.

Ramesh Kainthaje, a member of G. V. Joshi committee on production cost of areca nut, a farmer and a close observer of areca nut market, said that following the reports there was panic flooding of areca nut to markets by farmers which pushed the prices down by Rs. 15 per kg. Prices began to go up after State ministers stated that it would not be banned and the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad (on December 27) stating that the move had been put on hold. Prices began to recover from the last week of December after farmers began to hold the produce, he said.

Price on Wednesday stood at Rs. 195-197 per kg, Mr. Kainthaje said.

He said when compared to the prices prevailing during the same period last year, the prices are up by Rs. 15 this year.

Last January, the price of ‘hale adike’ was hovering around Rs. 185 per kg, he said.

Concurring with this M. Suresh Bhandary, managing director, the Central Areca nut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative Ltd. (Campco), said farmers, wholesale, and retail traders played a pivotal role in deciding areca nut market.

The reports did shook farmers this time who released old stocks held by them. Farmers were apprehensive that like gutkha, the government indeed might ban areca nut.

Sridhar G Bhide, former president, Mangalore Agriculturists’ Sahakari Sangha and presently its director, said traders were behind the fluctuation in price. They made use of the advantage of the reports and brought the prices down. Traders played a pivotal role in it, he said.

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