Tripura’s Betel Nut Farmers ‘Economically Deprived’: AIKS Leader Pabitra Kar Urges Government Intervention

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Posted in Featured, Northeast, Tripura
Abhijit Nath, NET Correspondent, Tripura

Agartala, May 31, 2024: In a state plagued by agricultural collapse, Tripura’s betel leaf and betel nut producers find themselves at the forefront of economic adversity. The Betel Nut Growers Association, representing thousands of farmers, voiced their concerns in a recent deputation meeting with the Director of the Horticulture Department, presenting a three-point charter of demands document.

Addressing a press conference at Chhatra-Yuva Bhavan here in Agartala city on Friday afternoon, All India Krishak Sabha state secretary Pabitra Kar emphasized the dire situation faced by betel nut farmers stating, “The livelihoods of lakhs of people have become uncertain due to the indifference of the government. They are deprived of all the necessary support for this cultivation, starting from mustard seed shell manure.”

State Jute Betel Nut Growers Association secretary Babul Debnath echoed these sentiments during a press conference, highlighting the urgent need for government intervention to save betel nut cultivation. Debnath underlined the mismanagement of resources, such as the abandonment of a crucial cold store in Nalua, rendering it useless for storing excess betel production.

Furthermore, Debnath raised concerns about price manipulation, alleging a 10% reduction in betel prices orchestrated by ruling party intermediaries. To counteract this, the association proposed the revival of cooperative societies to ensure fair pricing and distribution.

The heart of betel nut farming lies in regions like Unakoti and Jampui, where farmers grapple with dwindling profits and mounting debts. Despite repeated appeals to authorities, little action has been taken, exacerbating the plight of these farmers.

In response to mounting pressure, the Director of Horticulture has pledged to implement measures to support betel nut farmers. However, tangible solutions are yet to materialize.

The demands for government intervention include- Provision of easy loans for betel growers; Government initiatives to support betel cultivation; Construction of Pan barge in REGA project; Assistance for betel growers affected by natural calamities; Establishment of a training and research center for betel cultivation; Facilitation of betel sales through cooperatives in Agartala; Provision of free mustard shell fertilizer and insecticides; Exemption of millet and bamboo tax; Inclusion of betel growers under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi; Construction of greenhouses for betel growers; Initiatives for the expansion of betel nut cultivation; Provision of free quality betel nut seedlings; and Government assistance in marketing betel nuts within and outside the state.

In a press conference, Pabitra Kar reiterated the urgency of government intervention, stressing the need for immediate action to prevent the collapse of the state’s betel nut industry. Leaders from various associations, including Swapan Das, Anil Majumdar, and Mrinalkanti Ghosh, stand united in their quest for support and reform.

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