Lhakpa Quendren | Gelephu

Areca nut business in Sarpang is expected to grow in a few years, as an increasing number of farmers have been cultivating areca nut in recent years.

Fallow lands have now turned into thriving plantations. This shift in agricultural focus is widely recognised as an avenue that brings new opportunities for farmers.

Farmers say that planting areca nut trees is a more favourable option than leaving their land fallow.

Most farmers plant areca nut during the months of May and June. They said that engaging in areca nut cultivation not only generates additional income but also enhances the value of their lands.

Framers got better prices this year. However, those who bought the nuts from farmers incurred losses because of increased competition.

Dew Narayan Kadhal from Shompangkha Gewog said that the adverse weather conditions have resulted in a decline in production this year.

“I earned a profit of over 100,000 in the previous year. The business may incur losses this year, including the associated labour charges,” he said.

He recollects securing a contract to supply areca nuts at Nu 150,000. “The presence of a competitive market can potentially drive up the prices.”

The price of areca nuts varies depending on their quality and size, ranging from Nu 3,250 to 4,500 a bag. Business dealers from Wangdue and Punakha come to purchase after areca nuts are graded, while others are exported to India. 

Pushpa Lal Pokharal said that farmers who buy areca nuts on contract are facing the difficult task of balancing their expenses with potential returns from produce.   

Suk Raj, a farmer from Dekiling harvested 54 bags and earned Nu 74,000, said this year has been more profitable than last year. “I managed to obtain 48 bags of areca nuts, which I sold for Nu 82,000 this year. Business was good.”

Thakhur Prashad Homagain from Shompangkha said that it was convenient and profitable to sell the areca nut trees to buyers on contract in advance. “Opting for a contract arrangement is advantageous due to the reduced labour requirements and ease of work involved,” he said.