White arecanut prices touch ₹500 a kg in coastal belt

Maintaining a boom, the prices of ‘chali’ (white) variety of arecanut touched ₹500 a kg in the coastal market on Wednesday.

With this, the prices of white arecanut witnessed a 25% increase in just over a month.

Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative Ltd. (CAMPCO), Mangaluru offered ₹475 to ₹500 a kg for the old stocks which are called ‘chol’. The cooperative quoted ₹375 to ₹415 a kg for ‘hosa adike’ (new stocks) of arecanut being harvested since past three months.

When compared to the prices during the first week in January, the prices of old stocks jumped by 25% (by ₹100 per kg) and that of new stocks went up by 24% (by ₹80 a kg) on Wednesday. The prices of old stocks stood at ₹400 a kg and new stocks fetched ₹335 a kg on January 2, 2021, sources in the CAMPCO told The Hindu.

Vice-president of CAMPCO Khandige Shankaranarayana Bhat termed the prevailing prices as all-time high in the annals of arecanut market. But incidentally not many farmers have maintained old stocks with them, he said.

He attributed the upward trend in prices to shortage in production and negligible imports since the lockdown last year. Since imports are minimal, the consumer market in north India is entirely dependent on domestic supply which is not up to the tune of the demand. There is no glut of imported arecanut in the market.

Kole roga (fruit rot disease) which hit arecanut plantations on a vast scale in the 2018 and 2019 rainy season resulted in crop loss thus creating scarcity now in the supply of old stocks.

Mr. Bhat said that the unprecedented hike has posed a threat on maintaining the quality of arecanut. Explaining it, he said that the newly harvested arecanut will have to be dried up to 50 days or 60 days and only then should be sold to maintain the quality. But since the new stocks are now fetching a price which farmers earlier never got, there is a threat of farmers drying it up for only one month and releasing the same to the market. If such produce is released to the market there is the danger of non-availability of quality arecanut in the market.

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