Aurangabad, May 24 (PTI) Lockdown-like restrictions currently in force in Maharashtra have adversely affected the betel leaf farmers from Aurangabad district with many of them being forced to sell their produce at a loss due to disruption of the demand-supply chain.
According to farmers from hilly areas in Soyegaon, they are hit by the double whammy of the disruption in the production and supply of betel leaves and the demand slump. 'The sale of betel leaves generally starts in the month of April every year when good quality leaves are in abundance. However, due to the curbs traders are unable to approach us. The number of customers has also gone down,' said Vinod Misal, a farmer who has cultivated the betel leaf on a one-acre area, on Tuesday.
Betel leaves cultivated in Soyegaon taluka are high in demand in various parts of Maharashtra and in neighboring Madhya Pradesh.
'I spent almost Rs 3.5 lakh for the cultivation of betel leaves. Due to the lack of demand, the leaves are turning yellow. There was a time when we had sold a bunch of 5,000 betel leaves at the rate of Rs 3,000 two years ago. This rate has now come down to Rs 500 this year. Traders from Surat used to hand over at least Rs 2 lakh to us to finalise a deal, but this year no trader approached us,' lamented Arjun Katole who owns a farm of 1.75 acres.
Another farmer said betel Leaves from Soyegaon are used for eating and also for religious purposes.
'I am 49 now. And in my life, I never come across such a bad situation. We are selling our yield almost at the loss. The situation is so bad that the labour charges we are paying are the exact amount we are earning from selling betel leaves,' he said. PTI AW NSK NSK