Illegally imported arecanut seized by government should be auctioned at the floor price, says CAMPCO

CAMPCO president A. Kishore Kumar Kodgi writes to the Prime Minister on the issue and seeks his intervention

February 23, 2024 08:27 pm | Updated February 24, 2024 09:22 am IST - MANGALURU

Image of arecanut bags for representation

Image of arecanut bags for representation

With the price of arecanut beginning to fall, Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative Ltd. (CAMPCO), Mangaluru, on Friday, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention to ensure that when illegally imported arecanut seized by the government is auctioned the floor price is maintained.

In his letter, president of the cooperative A. Kishore Kumar Kodgi said the minimum import price (Cost, Insurance and Freight – CIF value) for arecanut has been fixed at ₹351 a kg. When the illegally imported arecanut is seized, it is auctioned by agencies such as Customs and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI). The government should auction the seized arecanut at ₹351 a kg. When it is auctioned below the minimum import price, the seized imported arecanut will flood the domestic market at a cheaper rate. Such an auction destabilises the domestic market and hits farmers hard. “... This measure is crucial to ensure fair trade practices and discourage any attempts to undermine the market...,” Mr. Kodgi said.

He said that all seized arecanut should undergo rigorous testing at accredited laboratories before auctioning. Otherwise, the health of consumers in the domestic market would be at risk.

There are concerns over the quality of arecanut often imported from countries such as Indonesia and Myanmar. Arecanut imported should not deviate from the FSSAI quality standards, he said.

Mr. Kodgi said that farmers in 17 of the 31 districts in Karnataka cultivate arecanut. If illegal import of arecanut is not curbed, domestic farmers will be in great distress.

Seizure in this fiscal

It may be mentioned here that Pankaj Chaudhary, Union Minister of State for Finance, told the Lok Sabha earlier this month that the Union government seized 6,760.8 tonnes of arecanut while it was being attempted to be illegally imported or smuggled into the country in the first nine months (April-December) of the current financial year. As many as 416 cases were booked in this connection.

The Minister said that the field formations and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence under the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) keep a constant vigil to thwart the illegal import of arecanut into the country. They take appropriate action as per the provisions of the law to prevent imports through the adoption of various deceptive methods by unscrupulous elements.

The Minister said that the field formations of CBIC are sensitised about new methods of smuggling by way of alert/modus operandi circulars. The National Customs Targeting Centre flags risky imports for purposes of suitable checks.

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