‘Government’s decision will hit farmers hard’

The Arecanut Growers’ Association has criticised the State government for banning the sale of gutka and said that it would adversely affect growers in the State.

Arecanut growers, who had been hit hard by the price crash in the past two years, were happy in the last few months as the price had stabilised. The growers thought that they could make good the losses they had sustained. The association urged Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to convene a meeting of growers and gutka producers and discuss the matter with them before imposing the ban.

Addressing a press conference here on Friday, S. Mallappa Gowda, convener of the district Arecanut Growers’ Association said that the government had imposed the ban under pretext of safeguarding health. If it was so concerned with public health, the government should ban cigarettes and liquor, he said.

He urged the government to revoke the ban on sale of gutka till cigarettes and consumption of liquor were banned. The mandatory warning printed on every cigarette pack that smoking was injurious to health was not sufficient to prevent people from smoking. A similar warning could be printed on each packet of gutka. He suspected that the government had yielded to the cigarette and liquor lobby and imposed the ban on gutka. The ban would discourage arecanut growers and pave the way for gutka being sold in the black market at high prices.