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Government Imports Arecanut from UAE & Singapore

Anupriya Patel, the Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, said in a written response to Nalin Kumar Kateel, a member of Parliament from Dakshina Kannada, that the country's areca nut production was around 15.63 lakh tonnes in 2020-21. During the fiscal year, the nation bought 23,988 tonnes of areca nut for Rs 508.59 crore.

Abha Toppo
Arecanut  Cultivation
Arecanut Cultivation

According to data presented in the Lok Sabha by the Centre, India has been importing arecanut from nations such as the United Arab Emirates and Singapore. Stakeholders in the arecanut industry have been pushing for a stringent ban on arecanut imports, claiming that the country is self-sufficient in manufacturing.

Anupriya Patel, the Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, said in a written response to Nalin Kumar Kateel, a member of Parliament from Dakshina Kannada, that the country's arecanut production was around 15.63 lakh tonnes in 2020-21. During the fiscal year, the nation bought 23,988 tonnes of arecanut for Rs 508.59 crore.

India's arecanut imports totaled 17,890 tonnes (provisional statistics) worth Rs 468.12 crore in the first ten months of the current fiscal year 2021-22. Imports from the United Arab Emirates and Singapore were included. During that time, the country imported 612 tonnes of arecanut for Rs 12.28 crore and 93 tonnes of arecanut worth Rs 2.45 crore from the UAE.

During April-January 2021-22, India imported arecanut from Sri Lanka (9,076 tonnes valued at 283.53 crore), Indonesia (4,885 tonnes rated at 84.21 crore), Myanmar (2,882 tonnes priced at 76.75 crore), Malaysia (222 tonnes valued at 5.83 crore), and Nepal (120 tonnes valued at 3.07 crore).

Campco Expresses Concern

Kishore Kumar Kodgi, President of Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative (Campco) Ltd, informed that areca nut is not grown in the UAE, Singapore, or Nepal, which is why he is concerned about its import. The import of arecanut from these countries, on the other hand, is remarkable.

"We believe arecanut is being rerouted illegally through these countries," he said.

Kodgi stated that cheaper imported commodities undermine demand for Indian arecanut in the home market and that there is always the threat of illegal imports harming the domestic market. He believes that strict measures must be put in place to prevent the illegal import of arecanut from other nations.

He claimed that the country's current supply of arecanut is sufficient to meet domestic demand. He claimed the import of arecanut has an influence on the domestic arecanut sector, which is already "aatmanirbhar" (self-reliant) in production, citing the Prime Minister's emphasis on the necessity for aatmanirbharta in every sector.

Control Measures

On the measures taken to discourage the entry of arecanut into the country, the Minister stated that arecanut imports are restricted by a 100% import charge. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, and Afghanistan, which are among the SAARC's least developed countries, have been spared from paying the entire import duty.

She further stated that Customs officials have been urged to inspect the rules of origin with extreme caution in order to guarantee that arecanut grown in countries other than SAARC is not imported through neighbouring countries to take advantage of the SAFTA import tax exemption.

Apart from that, a minimum import price (MIP) for arecanut has been implemented to limit unrestricted imports and to prevent inferior grade arecanut from entering the Indian market, disrupting native pricing. Currently, the MIP is set at $251 per kilogramme CIF (cost, insurance, and freight). Arecanut imports below this value are forbidden. She stated that the FSSAI (Food Safety and Criteria Authority of India) has instructed its field offices to strictly follow the arecanut quality standards before clearing import consignments.

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