Low price of areca nut leads to delayed harvesting in Samdrup Jongkhar

Like other districts along the southern foothills, Samdrup Jongkhar is also seeing a drop in the price of areca nut. Areca nut growers said due to low prices, traders are not harvesting the fruits on time which might hamper next year’s production. Many residents of the district grow the areca palm trees as their main source of income.

Villagers of Pemathang, Phuentshothang, Langchenphu and Samrang Gewogs used to sell unharvested areca nut to local traders.

Traders then harvest and export it to India. Usually, by this time, areca nut would have been harvested in most places.

However, this year, due to the low price and abundance of areca nut in India, the traders have yet to start harvesting in some places.

“Local traders were unable to harvest it on time since the price of areca nut is low in India. They said the price of areca nut is only Nu 30. We have already paid a lump sum to areca palm tree owners. This year, we will not be able to recover the principal amount,” said Ganga Ram, local trader.

With the delayed harvest, villagers are worried as it will affect the production next year with the onset of flowering.

“The production will be low next year. The windy season has started and the areca palm trees get damaged when it is left unharvested,” said Tshering Wangmo, a villager.

“We sell our areca nut in lump sum. It is time to harvest but local traders are still not harvesting it. The flowering has started and when they harvest, they will damage the flower,” said Peday, another villager.

“The price is low and the fruits are still not harvested. Fruits are falling down. When the harvest is late it will destroy the flowers and the production will reduce next year,” said Goma Devi Sharma, who is also a villager.

The areca nut growers earned at least Nu 50 per kilogramme last year but the price plummeted to Nu 30 this time.

According to the district agriculture office, the office is planning to provide training to rural youth on value addition. They have already set up a peeling machine in Phuentshothang Gewog.

Samdrup Jongkhar produces more than 1,600 metric tons of areca nut annually.

Kinley Wangchuk, Samdrup Jongkhar

Edited by Tshering Zam

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