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Home / India News / 2007 / May 2007 / May 18, 2007
Pan is no bahar for betel farmers
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Pan is no bahar for betel farmers

Pan is no bahar, or something that brings cheer, for the cultivators of betel leaves in Bellari District of Orissa.

By Sarada Lahangir

Sonapur (Orissa), May 18 : Pan is no 'bahar', or something that brings cheer, for the cultivators of betel leaves in Bellari District of Orissa.

Though known for producing the best betel leaves in the country, farmers here are unable to make both ends meet, as the effort they put in betel farming is of such magnitude that in the end they make no profit.

The cost of chemical fertilizers required for betel is prohibitive, and the price they get for the leaves is pittance, as they hardly have any skill in marketing the leaves.

There is very high demand for Bellari betel leave, but the prices the farmers get is far from being high.

Neither the Government nor the traders who buy their leaves help the farmers. The only 'luxury' if it could be called one is the facility they have in getting a chance to chew the Pan.

But, for the farmers, the Pan tastes bitter.

If people tell them that Betel leaves are sweet mouth freshners, and an integral part of life, of people in the sub-continent, the response is not likely to be hospitable.

If you tell them that Gods like betel leaves, as no religious function is complete without an offering of betel leaves, the farmers may not protest, but hope for a day when the Gods will be kind by making the traders pay them reasonable price.

Till such time they get adequate return, the farmers are likely to agree that offering a pan is a goodwill gesture.

Betel farmers of Orissa's Bellari district continue to work hard, hoping that a day will come, when Sonapur, where it is grown, will receive a return remotely resembling 'Sona' (gold).

It will help individuals like Jagish Meher, the betel farmer, say with justification that "The Sonpuriya betel grown here tastes very good. It has fragrance. Its leaf also has medicinal use."

There is hope. The Agriculture department has promised help, provide irrigation facilities. "And with the high production, our farmers will benefit more and more as the leaf is very much in demand," said Baisnav Baral, the District Agriculture Officer.


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