Farmers seek government help as rain hits betel leaf cultivation in UPUpdated: Jan 19, 2020 18:27 IST
Farmers of betel leaf (paan) have reported extensive damage to the crop because of rain across the state in the past two weeks.
The betel leaf growers’ union has demanded that the state government compensate the farmers for their losses and also include the crop in insurance scheme.
Paan is cultivated in 21 districts in the state: Mahoba, Banda, Lalitpur, Sonebhadra, Mirzapur, Varanasi, Azamgarh, Jaunpur, Ballia, Ghazipur, Barabanki, Sultanpur, Pratapgarh, Prayagraj, Amethi, Hardoi, Sitapur, Unnao, Kanpur, Rae Bareli and Lucknow.
“All these districts have reported absolute destruction of the crop because of winter rain and dew,” said Chhotelal Chaurasia, general secretary of Rashtriya Paan Kisan Union, Uttar Pradesh.
Betel leaf is an extremely weather-sensitive crop which is why it the farmers cultivate it in ‘baraja (reed housing)’--a kind of traditional greenhouse for temperature and moisture control.
“The government considers paan farming as horticulture and not as agriculture and crop insurance does not cover it. We have been demanding that paan should be covered in crop insurance to insulate farmers in case of calamities as has happened now,” said Chaurasia.
Balram Chaurasia, a paan farmer in Jaunpur, said that his entire crop had wilted in the recent rain. Vinod Chaurasia in Mahoba too voiced similar woes. Chhotelal Chaurasia said: “The cultivation area of paan in Uttar Pradesh is roughly 1,000 hectares and the rain has destroyed 80% of the crop. The government must immediately release ₹25 crore to the horticulture department to help paan farmers and should also introduce crop insurance for paan cultivation.”
Chaurasia also said: “The government should also introduce a scheme to finance 80%construction cost to help farmers replace the traditional baraja with modern baraja.”
The union also criticised the government for its recent announcement that said it would grant 50% construction cost for baraja between 1000 sq metres and 1500 metres in size.
“Earlier this range was between 500 square metres and 1500 square metres. Due to this, most of the farmers won’t be able to avail of the scheme because most of the paan cultivation is on pieces of lands around 500 sq metres,” Chaurasia said.