File photo: Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma

Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma on February 20 assured that his government will examine the proposal for coming up with a minimum support price for areca nut.

Sangma, however, said that the value of processed areca nut is almost 10 times the price adding: “Therefore, value addition is the only way to move forward.”

The chief minister was replying to a question raised by UDP legislator from Amlarem Lahkmen Rymbui, who requested the state government to consider coming up with a minimum support price for areca nut.

Rymbui said that the price of areca nut has come down drastically and this has led to more production but less income to the farmers.

He was referring to a notification issued by the Government of India in 2020 fixing the minimum support price for areca nut at Rs 200.

“It is our duty to support. We will continue to support in whatever way and keep augmenting in different ways that we can,” chief minister Conrad Sangma assured the UDP legislator.

Satisfied with the CM’s reply, Rymbui requested the government to consider setting up processing units in Amlarem to promote areca nut production and marketing.

Sangma however informed that two out of 46 processing units have been set up in Amlarem. He said close to Rs 41 lakh investment has been made apart from Rs 1 crore, which was already made.

Earlier in her reply, minister in-charge agriculture & farmers’ welfare Ampareen Lyngdoh said 46 processing units consisting of working shed, de-husking machines, solar tunnel dryers and soaked pits are being set up across 21 blocks in 10 districts. Total cost of these was Rs 14.06 crore.

The minister informed that 34 units have been completed and the remaining 12 units will be completed in the coming months.

She said Rs 10 lakh interest free working capital loan for aggregation and marketing of areca nut has been given to each of the 46 cooperatives.

Lyngdoh also said that areca nut is one of the items that the department of agriculture will be focusing in the years to come when replying to a query raised by UDP legislator from Mawkyrwat Renikton Lyngdoh Tongkhar, who wanted to know if areca nut will be considered as an export item.

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