The Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative (Campco) Ltd has appealed to the Prime Minister and the Commerce Minister to address the issues related to the illegal import of arecanut into India.

A Kishore Kumar Kodgi, President of Campco, told businessline that arecanut is being unlawfully brought into the country through various channels posing a serious threat to the domestic market and causing substantial losses to both the Government and farmers. Arecanut is being imported through air, sea and through land border routes, he said.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Kodgi said arecanut is illicitly transported into India through airports using the domestic supply routes.

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Explaining this, he said the goods are initially brought across the border areas in north-eastern region such as Tamu and Silchar. From there, imported arecanut is sent to loading points at airports such as Imphal, Dimapur, Kolkata and Agartala. Receiving points for these goods include Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Nagpur and Ahmedabad.

Cargo misdeclaration

Referring to the import through sea route, he said in the letter that arecanut is imported through ports by mis-declaring the cargo. Commercial invoices and bills of entry may falsely categorise the shipment as dates or raw cashew. In fact, it contains arecanut, he said, adding this deceptive practice is prevalent in Mundra, Thughlakabad ICD and Chennai.

Importers take advantage of the SAFTA agreement importing goods at zero per cent duty and only 5 per cent GST. The goods are first moved to Sri Lanka or Bangladesh. There the ‘Country of Origin’ is manipulated to reflect that particular nation, he said.

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On the import through land routes, Kodgi said in the letter that arecanut is being imported through various border routes such as Champhai (Mynamar-Mizoram border) to Bairandi (Mizoram-Assam border) to Guwahati to Delhi and Kanpur; and Moreh (Myanmar-Manipur border) to Dimapur, Nagaland to Guwahati and North India. He said there are reports of flights carrying up to 10 tonnes of arecanut from Imphal, Agartala and Guwahati every day.

“This illegal trade not only severely impacts the domestic arecanut market putting farmers at a disadvantage in terms of market rates, but also results in substantial revenue loss for the Government. Importers are exploiting deceptive methods such as disguising arecanut as dry fruits or fish meal to avoid detection,” he said in the letter.

Requesting the Prime Minister to direct the Union Commerce Ministry for intervention in this matter and to advise the officials concerned to take immediate and stringent action to curb the illegal entry of arecanut into the country, Kodgi said: “Your guidance and support are pivotal in safeguarding the interests of our farmers, preserving the integrity of our domestic market and ensuring the revenue streams for our nation.”