Customs authorities would be closely watching imports of these products coming from countries with which India has FTAs, from September 21, officials in the finance ministry said, in order to curb evasion of custom duty and rampant misuse of such agreements that was hurting domestic industry.

“We expect 35 per cent shortfall in the crop. Rains have led to disease of the nuts,” said M Suresh Bhandary, MD of Mangalore-based Campco.

Prices fell 7-14% for different varieties from the pre-demonetisation levels, as major buyers reduced purchase of arecanut.

Price of the white variety of arecanut has fallen by around 14% to Rs 250 per kg while that of the red variety has declined 7% to Rs 270 per kg.

The Centre had hiked the minimum import price of arecanut to Rs 162 per kg from Rs 110 per kg early this month to protect the local growers from imports.

The government today said it has increased the minimum import price on arecanuts by Rs 52 to Rs 162 per kg.

The proposal of banning the sale of loose cigarettes is likely to be put on the backburner as some Ministers have urged Health Minister JP Nadda not to take any hasty step till issues, including those concerned to farmers, are resolved.

“The consumer base using arecanut is so large that duty increase will not affect the demand.

The fear of arecanut (supari) growers that the consumption will slump with the enforcement of a ban on gutka in most states in the country has proved to be unwarranted.

Supply of palm fronds, a staple for elephants, drops as farmers clear out arecanut, coconut plantations for rubber estates.

Directorate of Arecanut and Spices Development data show that output has dropped 5% to 5,29,097 tonne mainly due to a 20% fall in production in Kerala.

BJP in Karnataka demanded immediate withdrawal of Government notification banning gutka, asserting that it would hit arecanut growers of the state.

Raising the import duty and fixing minimum tariff for imports for arecanuts have neutralised the impact of a ban on gutkha in 14 states in India.

A sharp increase in arecanut prices has forced pan masala and gutka companies to raise prices at a time when they are facing a threat of ban on these products.

Arecanut prices have been hit by the escalating imports.

Multi Commodity Exchange today launched futures trading in arecanut (red variety), used widely in the preparation of pan masala and gutkha.

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