Belowa (Madhya Pradesh), Feb 24 : Farmers engaged in cultivation of betel leaves here are facing lots of problems and are forced to grow other crops or take up other means of livelihood.
A major factor that has led to slump in demand for betel leaves has been the increasing rate of gutka consumption in the domestic market, which has in turn hit traders and farmers badly.
Farmers who travel from villages to cities and towns, to sell betel leaves have been badly hit and find it difficult to earn a livelihood.
"We collect betel leaves from farmers and supply them in the wholesale markets of Disawal from where it is further supplied to Saharanpur, Meerut, Bareilly, Agra, Jaunpur, etc. Earlier it was supplied mostly to Pakistan. But now it has been stopped and there has been a downfall in its production," said Suresh Singh Chourasia, a farmer.
Betel leaf has a range of medicinal qualities and was consumed in large quantities even in earlier times. Pharmacies bought these leaves for preparation of various medicines.
"Ancient scriptures say that 'paan' is auspicious as it is used in several rituals. It is also good for health as it elements which help in digestion of food, but the quantity of supaari (betel nut) in paan must be reduced," said K.K.Dhingra, a doctor.
Earlier approximately 1200 people of the Chourasia community were involved in farming and production of these leaves. It was exported vest to Bangladesh also but now the quantity has reduced drastically.