Mangalore, Aug 9: Karnataka Home Minister V S Acharya on Saturday, Aug 9 stressed the need for value addition to areka products and diversification in arecanut cultivation to improve earnings of growers.
Speaking after inaugurating a two-day International conference on 'Future of Arecanut', organised by Arecanut Research and Development Foundation (ARDF) here he opined that the arecanut based products was in great demand in foreign countries, provided there was continuous flow and maintenance of highest quality. There was also need for more research on the medicinal value of the nut, he said.
The grower was now enjoying fiscal concession but many of his problems remained. Referring to the demand made by the growers and CAMCPO for removal of four per cent VAT levied on arecanut, the minister said that the Empowered Committee of the union government was against removal of VAT.
He said that the BJP government in the State was committed to help the areca farmers. It had initiated talks with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on marketing of arecanut in that state.
"We will not let you down. The State government would certainly make sincere effort to implementing the suggestions coming out of this conference, he assured.
Delivering the key-note address, V V Bhat, Principal Secretary (Finance and Planning), Government of NCR, Delhi stressed the need that intensive research should be carried out on modern scientific lines to establish that arecanut was not harmful to health.
Such research had broadly proved that tobacco and other additives were having carcinogenic effects. Researchers and institutions should be supported to undertake research projects to conclusively establish that chewing of arecanut did not lead to health hazards and it was only a misgiving.
He stressed that futures trading and standardisation of arecanut products were the other areas which needed to be addressed and understanding of the need for producing and marketing qualitative products at the farmers level was to be followed.
There was a need for organic farming in the arecanut cultivation to conform to globally accepted standards with regard to its quality, packaging and processing practices, especially as a finished product for chewing mouthfreshner and such other products.