Arecanut / Betel nut farming & Cultivation Guide India

Arecanut , Catechu, Supari, Sopari , Betel nut are some of the common names. Almost all Indians would know this particular nut and taste it at some point in their life. Arecanut is used in pujas in Hindu culture and is also commonly chewed by all ages with betel leaves or in pan masalas.

Arecanut had in recent times gone through some bad propaganda wherein a certain chemical in the nut is tested to be carcinogenic, or the cause of cancer. It was later studied that the betelnut itself is not the cause of cancer but the addition of tobacco is the cause for the same. On the contrary, betel nut is known to have medicinal benefits from curing constipation, skin diseases, and obesity among others.

Betel nut is cultivated in tropical weather and is cultivated in most parts of India at least in a small quantity. Kerala and Karnataka, contribute to 70% of all Supari cultivation in India. India is also the leader in catechu production worldwide.

India cultivates Areacanut in 400,000 hectares of land with a production of nearly 5 Lakh Tonnes.  Karnataka stands first in productivity per acre and total production along with land utilized for Arecanut cultivation in India. 

A total of 240,000 Tonnes of areca nut is produced from 197,000 Total hectares of land in Karnataka with the productivity of 1300Kg of areca nut per hectare. Nagaland is noted to have the highest productivity at 6500 Kg per hectare with Tamil Nadu at 2067 Kilos per hectare 

The second country which produces areca nut after India is Indonesia, followed by China, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and others. India produces more than 50% of the world’s production of Arecanut s today.

Arecanut Plantation Per acre

Arecanut s are planted close to each other and can accommodate 600 plants per acre. Its a good intercrop for coconut if the age of the coconut is above 8 years. A good Arecanut plantation will yield approximately 1.5 Tonne of nuts annually. Though this may not be as profitable as many other crops, there is a good chance that you can increase the overall production of the land by intercropping. Intercropping Arecanut with betelnut leaves, Black pepper, and banana is a common practice. It’s also possible to intercrop flowers and vegetables for the first three years where the production of Arecanut is nil. 

While the value of the Arecanut crop is nominal as a sole crop, with the intercropping, the possibility of increasing the value and overall production of multiple crops is impressive. One of the most profitable intercropping is black pepper. A black pepper vine produces approximately 3 KG of pepper per vine. Each Arecanut plant can support 2 vines of black pepper. An average yield of 3.5 tonnes of green pepper can be cultivated from one acre of the Arecanut plantation. The profit from black pepper alone is very impressive. With the additional income of the Arecanut, you can expect a very good profit from one acre of land. An estimate of 3 Lakh in profit is possible with the Arecanut plantation intercropped with black pepper. The profit is on the lower scale with price of pepper only set to 300 Rs per kg of green pepper,while the cost of black pepper ranges from 450 to 500 in the market. 

With sole cropping of Arecanut, the possibility of profit is very nominal at 80,000 Rs per acre.

Arecanut Varieties and Yield

TALLYield / tree Annually
Sumangala3 KG
Sreemangala3 KG
Swarnamangala4 KG
Mohitnagar3.5 KG
Kahikuchi3.7KG
Madhuramangala3 KG
Nalbari4.15KG
Semi Tall
Mangala2.9KG
Shatamangala3.96 KG
DWARF
VTAHL12.5 KG
VTAHL22.5KG

Arecanut varieties are categorized by the location it’s grown. Varieties in Kerala and Karnataka are different from those grown in Assam and Meghalaya. The varieties are dependent on weather conditions. Mangala is best suited for parts of Karnataka and Kerala, Shatamangala is for Gujarat and parts of Karnataka. Nalbari is popular in West Bengal and the northeast. Madhuramangala is mostly grown in Maharashtra and parts of Karnataka Kahikuchi is best grown in Assam and Meghalaya regions.

Each variety has its own set of features and benefits. For instance, the madhuramangala has large nuts with a marbled appearance when split. Some varieties are smaller in size while others are large. At the end of the day, the best varieties for your location should be considered based on the existing research and farmers who are already cultivating areca nut.

Introduction of Dwarf Varieties

One of the most time-consuming and labor-intensive parts of Arecanut farming is harvesting. Harvesting requires skilled labor and is risky. The harvester usually climbs one tree and jumps from one tree to the other to pick on the next tree. Unlike coconut harvesting, Arecanut trees are close to each other and can be hopped from one tree to another. This does involve the risk of falling down and injury. 

While picking Arecanut with poles is a common practice these days, its not possible with trees that are beyond 40 or 50 feet in height. Mature trees are often left alone when harvesters are not available and the fruits are picked and collected when they drop. 

One other problem which Arecanut farmers face is the hardship of spraying insecticides. It becomes impossible to reach the top of the palm with a spray gun or insecticide sprayers. Many times, insecticides are avoided due to this reason sometimes wiping out the entire crop due to certain pests. 

The introduction of  VTLAH–1 and VTLAH–2 variety by the CPCRI, Kasargod Kerala, the new variety grows only to 4 meters in height, gives a good yield of 2-3 KG per plant, and can accommodate up to 800 plants per acre instead of 600 plants from regular varieties.

The dwarf Varieties of Arecanut also make it easy for pesticide sprays and harvesting, in turn reducing the cost of production for the farmers.

The downside to the shorter varieties is that intercropping becomes a lot more difficult. 

https://www.thehindu.com/business/agri-business/commercial-launch-of-dwarf-hybrid-Arecanut -varieties-likely-next-year/article24548001.ece

Intercropping and increasing profitability with areacanut farms : http://researchjournal.co.in/online/RKE/RKE-15(1)/15_117-120.pdf