Agri Business

Arecanut stakeholders welcome RCEP pull out

AJ Vinayak Mangaluru | Updated on November 05, 2019

Welcoming the Centre’s decision to not sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) treaty, stakeholders in arecanut sector have stressed the need to focus on value addition to the commodity and to get ready to focus on future threats from international agreements.

Vigneshwara Varmudy, an agro-economist who has published several research papers on arecanut market, told BusinessLine that it is now time for arecanut growers to think of value addition to the commodity.

Speaking to BusinessLine earlier in October, Varmudy had stated that the RCEP treaty may not make a big impact on arecanut market, as India is importing it from Indonesia and Thailand through the Myanmar border. That would have continued.

Stating that the threat of such free trade agreements will be there in future also, he said it is essential for the arecanut growers to focus more on value addition to the commodity in such a situation.

He suggested that arecanut growers contribute at least 1 per cent of their income from the commodity on research and development activities in this sector. Nothing can be gained from blaming such agreements and it is better to be prepared to face them, he said.

Subrahmanya Bhat, a grower from Bantwal taluk of Dakshina Kannada district, said that India cannot enter into a free trade agreement without the growers in the country being prepared for it.

Referring to arecanut cultivation, he said the cost of production is cheap in countries such as Indonesia and Thailand. The signing of the agreements would have created a permanent market for arecanut for some of the countries in the RCEP block. This would have helped them to increase the production. That would have affected Indian farmers.

Terming it as a good decision not to sign the RCEP, SR Satishchandra, President of Campco (Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative) Ltd, said that Campco had written to the Centre urging the government to keep arecnaut, pepper and milk out of RCEP. He alleged that some countries in RCEP block route arecanut illegally to India through countries such as Sri Lanka. Such a practice is already affecting the Indian market. Indian growers are already facing challenging times because of low prices to the commodity and high cost of production, he said.

Welcoming the government’s move to come out from RCEP, Ravish Hegde, General Manager of the Sirsi-based Totagars’ Cooperative Sale Society (TSS), said it would help agri products in the country.

Published on November 05, 2019

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