Agartala: The areca nut growers of Jampui Hills in North Tripura district launched an indefinite dawn to dusk strike from Monday against the trade restrictions imposed on their produce by the Assam government.
Jampui Hills, which was once famous for oranges, is now known for large-scale production of areca nuts for its commercial viability and never-ending demand.
The problem started when the Assam government imposed restrictions on the transportation of areca nuts to the state from Tripura, stating that it would soon come up with a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the detection of smuggled Burmese betel nuts.
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“Since then nothing has been done. The trade restrictions continued and over 2,000 families dependent on betel nut farming are facing the brunt. We have raised the issue at different levels and met Chief Minister Dr. Manik Saha on November 2 seeking his intervention on the matter. But no concrete step has been taken yet to provide us any relief,” said JD Mawai, one of the areca nut growers of Jampui Hills.
According to the protestors, the problem is far bigger than the Jampui Hills.
“Just because the growers are settled in the hills in a concentrated way, the problem is felt here. Every household is facing trouble. There are 900 hectares of betel nut plantation across Jampui, among which 600 hectares is actively giving regular harvest. The rest is a new plantation, which is yet to mature for bearing fruit,” he added.
He also informed EastMojo that betel nut growers from all over Tripura have extended support to the strike called at Jampui Hills.
According to a memorandum submitted by the agitating farmers to local authorities, a total of 7,000 families are directly affected by the blanket ban on the transportation of betel nuts.
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“The livelihood of areca nut growers of about 7,000 households in Tripura has been shattered since the restriction was imposed by the Assam government on the transit of areca nut notwithstanding the ‘Place of Origin Certificate’ validating authenticity of the crop source. Manifestation of farmers’ apprehension and frustration in the form of national road blockade calling for authorities intervention still remains unsettled,” a joint memorandum undersigned by Larawntlinga Sailo, president of All Tripura Areca Nut Growers’ Union (ATAGU) Jampui Hills unit, and Reuben Ranglong, Secretary ATAGU North Tripura district unit, reads.
The ATAGU has sought intervention from the state government in lifting the trade restriction. To avoid such a situation in the future, the farmers’ body also demanded institutionalisation of the areca nut trade. Besides, the farmers have also drawn the notice of the government towards attaching minimum support price for areca nuts.
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