Arecanut plantation coughing up veggie prices

Karnataka government looks into rising prices of horticultural crops; notes increasing arecanut plantation, declining horticultural farming areas.
Arecanut plantation
Image used for representationExpress Photo | D Hemanth

BENGALURU: The increase in horticultural crop prices, impacting household budgets, is primarily driven by the basic principles of supply and demand. One contributing factor to this rise is the decrease in the cultivation area of these crops.

Taking note of the issue, the Karnataka government held a meeting with officials from horticulture and agricultural departments on finding possible solutions.

According to officials, the area under arecanut plantation has been increasing year after year and there has been a reduction in the area under horticultural crop cultivation. As per information from the horticultural department, the area under arecanut plantation in the year 2022- 23 was 1.52 lakh hectares, producing 6,89,072 metric tonnes. In the year 2021- 22 production was 6,14,216 metric tonnes in 1.53 lakh hectares hectares. In 2020-21 the area under arecanut cultivation was 1.44 lakh hectares hectares producing 5,62,889 metric tonnes.

“The overall area under horticultural cultivation is 27.14 lakh hectares this year, while last year it was around 26 lakh hectares. The area under cultivation of fruits and vegetables is around 4 lakh hectares and 6 lakh hectares, respectively. The area under arecanut plantation is on the rise and it is not a healthy trend. Around 90-95% of the yield is used in gutka and tobacco industry, which is one of the high revenue generators of the state. Yield from Karnataka is sent to Maharashtra and north Indian states. Hence the government is unable to control the area of arecanut production. Farmers have also realised that it is a profitable crop and requires less effort when compared to horticultural crops which are weather and market driven,” a senior official from the horticulture department explained.

An acre of 550 arecanut trees yields upto two kilograms of fruit, which has a high market demand. Yields begin from the sixth year of sowing and goes on till 20- 25 years.

“In many places now farmers are indulging in monocropping. There has been a rising trend in arecanut plantation since last 3-4 years, results of which are being seen now with high cost of fruits and vegetables as the area of cultivation has reduced. Mono cropping is a concern especially when there are cases of fungal diseases. It is becoming a menace in Malnad region, where it is a traditional crop.

Arecanut cultivation has increased not just in Malnad regions but even in other dry areas like Kolar, Chamarajanagar, Chikkaballapur, Chitradurga, Tunkuru, Haveri and outskirts of Bengaluru. This time we have also found that farmer in areas of paddy cultivation have shifted to arecanut. We are collecting data on this,” the official added.

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