The Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative (Campco) Ltd has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to curb the import of arecanut into the country.

Highlighting the issues related to the impact of imports on the domestic arecanut sector in a letter to the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, President of Campco Kishore Kumar Kodgi said India is self-sufficient in arecanut production.

Mentioning that arecanut import continues unabated causing continuous destabilisation in the domestic arecanut market resulting in great distress to farmers, he said huge quantities of arecanut are imported through road, air and sea both legally and illegally.

Stating that arecanut attracts an import duty of 108 per cent on a minimum import tariff value of ₹251 a kg, he said it is being smuggled to India from Myanmar with impunity and is entering India through Silchar in Assam and Falakata in West Bengal. The commodity is sent by rail and road from these destinations to Nagpur, Kanpur, etc., and is being sold in the market in the range of ₹250-260 a kg.

Imported as millets

“It is learnt from reliable sources that arecanut is infiltrated into our country through Chennai International Airport in the guise of millets and also through Mundra Airport at Gujarat,” he said in the letter.

On the import of arecanut through sea ports, he said a huge quantity of arecanut has been downloaded at the Mumbai Port in the guise of dates. In spite of the fact that there is no production of arecanut in Dubai, it is perplexing to note that a consignment from that destination has been cleared at Mumbai Port, he said, adding arecanut have been cleared at Kandla Port and Tuticorin Ports in substantial quantities.

Citing the above facts, he said it can be understood that a substantial quantity of arecanut is imported legally into the country. “Though there are ways and means wherein huge quantities of arecanut are infiltrated into the country even illegally, the exact quantity cannot be assessed,” he said.

Requesting the Prime Minister to direct the authorities concerned to look into the possibility of total ban on arecanut import, he said such a move would empower the domestic farmers and support the ambitious ‘Aatma Nirbhar Bharath’ programme.

Minimum tariff value

Campco also suggested that the Government increase the minimum tariff value for import of arecanut from the existing ₹251 a kg to ₹360 a kg based on the current cost of cultivation.

Based on the cost of cultivation of ₹250 a kg in 2018, the minimum tariff value was revised to ₹251 that year. Following this, the domestic market had seen an improvement.

Stating that the cost of cultivation has gone up now, he said the costs of all items have increased. Giving details of this, he said in the letter that the price of copper sulphate (used as a fungicide in arecanut plantations) has increased from ₹190 a kg in 2015 to ₹340 a kg now. The cost of labour, which was at around ₹450 a kg in 2015, has gone up to ₹650 a kg now.

He said the present cost of cultivation worked out to ₹409 a kg for red variety of arecanut and ₹360 a kg for white variety of arecanut.

“At this juncture, it is pertinent to mention that the domestic market is currently being flooded with imported arecanut. Hence, we request your goodselves to direct the concerned to issue fresh notification through the DGFT for fixing the minimum tariff value to above ₹360 a kg based on the current cost of cultivation,” Kodgi said in his letter to the PM.