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Areacanut, the seed taken out from Areca palm, is a major ingredient in gutkha industry in the country. It is also used widely in religious and cultural ceremonies. Veterinary medicine is another area of arecanut usage.
Broadly two varieties of arecanut are popular amongst consumers—red supari and white supari. Red variety is prepared from not fully matured green arecanut after boiling and removal of its husk. White supari is made from fully ripened arecanut through 40-50 day sun drying.
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The arecanut palms grow under a variety of climatic and soil conditions. It grows well from almost sea level up to an altitude of 1000 m in areas of abundant and well-distributed rainfall or under irrigated conditions. It is grown in a variety of soils such as laterites, red loams and alluvial.
India is the leading producer of areacanut in the world with 53 percent share of global output. Indonesia, Bangladesh, China, Myanmar and Thailand are the other producers of arecanut. China is credited with the highest productivity of over 3 ton per hectare while India is the fourth with 1.18 tons per hectare.
In India, arecanut is mainly grown in the states of Kerala, Karnataka and Assam. The first two states account for 70 percent of the Indian production. The total area under arecanut in the country is estimated to be around 372,000 hectares and total production is 340,000 tons.
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The white variety accounts for 60 percent of the production with the rest going for red. Total consumption in India is estimated to be 330,000 ton per year. India also exports limited quantity mainly in the form of pan masala, scented supari and gutkha.
In India, the major domestic markets for arecanut includes Mumbai, Ahmedadad, Indore, Jaipur, Delhi, Nagpur, Patna, Calcutta and Cuttack. Demand from Pakistan, Nepal, climatic conditions, carryover stocks, imports and market and minimum support price etc are the key variables that shape arecanut prices in the country.