Jagatsinghpur, May 5 LocalWire): Thousands of betel farmers of Jagatsinghpur district are heartbroken as the vines have been completely damaged during the cyclone.
Betel cultivation is the major source of livelihood for more than 50,000 farmers of this district.
The leaves are sold between Rs 500 to Rs 1000 a basket which only breaks even their expenditure and labour cost and the planters adjust the loss in cultivation.
The farmers had faced such a situation after land acquisition by Posco steel project. Hundreds of farmers had lost their crops and had only recently re-planted the vines in Nuagaon, Dhikina, Gadakujang of Erasama block. But the crops have once again been completely damaged due to cyclone Fani.
Local betel farmers alleged that neither the state government nor the horticulture department initiated measures to help betel vine cultivators.
No steps are being taken to market the produce or provide compensation to the affected farmers.
One senior officer of horticulture department admitted that betel farmers are facing trouble marketing the produce. Steps have been taken to estimate their loss and compensation will be given to the affected farmers, he added.
Betel vine cultivator Babaji Swain from Nuagaon said ‘this is a traditional business, so we generate good income as the price of betel leaf has gone high. But every year natural calamities make our life miserable.
Land acquisition by Posco also damaged the betel vines.’
Betel leaf is exported to places like Mumbai, Kolkata, New Delhi and foreign countries because the betel leaf quality here is better.
Farmers in Kujang also produce yellow betel and prevent the leaves from perishing quickly. They disclour the betel leaves by heating.
The women and children of the house are engaged to process the betel leaf and its package for transportation to other states but the whole business has been severely affected by Fani.
Sukudev Nayak, Rasabihari Nayak, Rabindra Swain, Narayan Bhol, Bulu Sethy and Uttam Swaim hailing from Kujang, Erasama, Raghunathpur, Tirtol, Biridi, Jagatsinghpur and other areas of this district who depend on betel farming for their livelihood expressed their grief.
‘Hundreds of acres of betel vines have been damaged.
Betel vine worth lakhs of rupees has been damaged in each block so it is very difficult to survive after this loss,’ they said.