The recent reported statement of the Member of Parliament from Godda constituency in Jharkhand, Nishikant Dubey, on arecanut has been evoking strong opposition from various stakeholders in the sector.

This follows a recent letter from Dubey, which was reported in a section of media, in which he had reportedly asked the Prime Minister to prohibit the human consumption of betel nut (arecanut) where he claimed that it caused diseases like cancer.

Urging the Union government to instil confidence among the arecanut growers on the future of the crop, the General Secretary of All-India Areca Growers’ Association (AIAGA), Mahesh Puchhappady, said that such statements are being reported from various corners of society every now and then.

Stating that arecanut is the main livelihood source for many farmers in Karnataka and Kerala, he said around 5 lakh farmers in the country are dependent on this crop.

Farmers grow arecanut crop on around 6 lakh hectares in the country. The annual production of arecanut in the country is estimated at around 8 lakh tonnes, he said.

Arecanut crop is grown in more than 50 per cent of the region in Karnataka. In fact, arecanut is the major source of revenue to the government in the form of taxes, he said.

In such a situation, any adverse statement on arecanut creates panic among farmers in the arecanut-growing regions of the country, he said, urging the government to interfere in this matter and conduct a scientific study on the impact of arecanut on human health. Such a measure would instil confidence among farmers, he said.

Many studies have been done on the beneficial properties of arecanut, he said. AIAGA will make a representation to the government seeking a proper scientific study on arecanut, he said.

Meanwhile, the Totagars’ Cooperative Sale Society (TSS) Ltd (an arecanut cooperative from Sirsi in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka) has also expressed its displeasure over the reported statement of the Godda MP on arecanut.

Scientific study

In a statement, Ravish Hegde, General Manager of TSS Ltd, said that rather than creating panic among the stakeholders in arecanut sector with such statements, a proper scientific study should be initiated on the impact of arecanut on human health.

He said various national and international studies by different institutes have highlighted the beneficial properties of arecanut.

Condemning the reported statement of Nishikant Dubey on arecanut, TSS Ltd urged the Central government to boost the morale of the arecanut growers and others in the sector by initiating a study on it.

It may be mentioned here that the Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative (Campco) Ltd has already taken strong objection to the reported statement of the Godda MP on this matter, and also urged the Prime Minister to initiate a scientific study on the matter.