Areca growers of Shivamogga, on Friday, took out a protest march opposing the Union government’s decision to import areca from Bhutan without minimum import price. Under the banner of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, they walked from the bus stand to the Deputy Commissioner’s office. Along the march, they raised slogans against the Union government/
H.R. Basavarajappa, president of KRRS, said the government had allowed the import of 17,000 tonnes of areca from Bhutan. Gradually, the quantity could increase to 50,000 tonnes. Eventually, the local market would suffer the impact. The native growers would lose demand for their produce, he said.
Advocate and social activist K.P.Sripal, who took part in the protest, said the areca growers were in dire straits due to diseases that affected the areca plantations. A farmer recently committed suicide unable to repay the loan he borrowed to cultivate areca. “If this continued further, children of farmers could pick up arms. The people’s representatives of the Malnad region would be responsible if the present crisis led to such a scenario”, he said.
He also urged the people’s representatives to discuss issues concerning the farming community and resolve them.
The protesters also submitted a memorandum to the district administration.