The Government has agreed to one of the demands of arecanut growers to increase minimum price for imported arecanut.

In a notification dated August 14, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has increased the minimum price for import from Rs 35 a kg to Rs 75 a kg.

Terming the DGFT notification as an Independence Day gift to farmers, K. Padmanabha, President of Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative (Campco) Ltd, told Business Line that Campco has been demanding the Government to increase minimum floor price on import for so many years.

Thanking the Government for this, he said that now they (Government) will have to control the illegal import.

Ravish Hegde, Managing Director of the Sirsi-based Totagars’ Cooperative Sale Society (which is involved in arecanut trade), hoped that this move will boost the prices of the commodity, at least by Rs 10 a kg, in the domestic market.

Seeking strict enforcement of this notification, M. Srinivas Achar, president of All-India Areca Growers’ Association, said tax concessions should not be given to any country for arecanut import under different trade agreements.

Ramesh Kaintaje, a farmer from Bantwal taluk of Dakshina Kannada district, said that the DGFT move will help revise the base price for arecanut. In future, the base price may stay at around Rs 150 a kg for new stocks of white arecanut and at around Rs 200 for old stocks.

It may be mentioned here that the growers and cooperatives in arecanut-growing areas, who were seeking this hike, were stating then that the inferior imported arecanut was available much below the ruling price in the market even after paying a duty of 108 per cent.

In a recent reply to the Member of Parliament from Mangalore, the Union Commerce Ministry had stated that arecanut is being imported from other countries, including Malaysia and Indonesia. It had stated that 76,041.39 tonnes of arecanut worth Rs 258.82 crore were imported from different countries in 2010-11.

Many farmers then stated that this worked out to average price of Rs 33.96 a kg in the market, which is below the minimum price for import then. The average price of import from Indonesia was Rs 22.34 and from Thailand was Rs 25.48 during that year.

On Tuesday, the old stocks of white arecanut were traded at Rs 225 and Rs 239 in Mangalore and Puttur APMCs, respectively.

vinayak.aj@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 15, 2012)
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