A Correspondent

Parts of alternative roads not motorable

Buyers from Karnataka have to travel 70 km more

Areca nut cultivated in 8,000 hectares in Wayanad

KALPETTA: The night traffic ban on the Gundlupet-Sulthan Bathery National Highway has put arecanut farmers here in a fix. Many farmers in the district had turned to areca cultivation in the wake of failure of cash crops such as pepper, coffee and rice.

The harvesting season of areca is from September to February and more than 90 per cent of the crop is sent to arecanut processing centres in Karnataka. Traders from Chamaraj Nagar, Sireah, Tumkur and Pavhada in Karnataka come to district to purchase red arecanut.

The transaction is the mainstay of arecanut cultivation in Wayanad. But, the traffic ban might hamper many traders from coming to the district, resulting in a sharp fall in demand and price, a leading trader at Meenangadi said.

Highly perishable

Peeled arecanut is highly perishable and gets spoiled in 24 hours. Traders from Karnataka used to load the crop at night and reach their destinations early in the morning. Now, they have to travel at least 70 km more. Also, parts of the alternative roads are not motorable.

The spot price for peeled tender arecanut has declined to Rs.27 a kilogram on Saturday at Meenangadi market against Rs.30 in the corresponding period last year.

“This year would have been a favourable year for arecanut farmers as crop production in major centres in Karnataka had dipped to nearly 30 per cent this year owing to the dry weather there during the flowering season,” A. Jacob, an arecanut trader said.

Tender arecanut is used for making red arecanut, a main ingredient of gutka and pan masalas.