INTRODUCTION TO ARECA NUT CULTIVATION
The term ‘Areca’ is taken up from the Malayan language that means ‘cluster of nuts’ The areca nut palm is the source of common chewing nut, popularly known as betel nut or Supari. In India it is extensively used by large sections of people and is very much linked with religious practices. India is the largest producer of areca nut and at the same time largest consumer also. It is one of the most important commercial crops in the Southeast Asia. The nut is cultivated in palm plantations and the tree as well as the nut has a never-ending list of uses i.e. for chewing purposes, as vegetable, as medicine, as stimulant, timber, fuel wood, clothing, wrapping, lubricant, tannin etc. When the nut is chewed along with the betel leaf, it increases the stimulating effect, though excessive consumption enhances the risk of cancer. The areca nut is produced in two varieties - white variety Supari and red variety Supari. The first variety is prepared by harvesting the fully ripe nuts and drying them in sun for around 2 months and the other one is produced by harvesting the green areca nut, by boiling them and then by peeling off the outer husk. India tops the list of major betel nut producing countries followed by China and Myanmar. Also India tops the major betel nut consuming countries’ list with almost entire list comprising of the countries from Asian continent. HISTORY
The exact location of the origination of the areca nut is not known till date but it is said that the betel palm originally grew in the Southeast Asian region, most probably in Malaysia or Philippines in the ancient times. These areas still have the widest variety of the plantation belonging to the ‘Areca’ genus. The common practice and culture of chewing seeds is said to be as old as the origin of the plantation itself and has its roots in Vietnam and Malaysia. From the Southeast Asian land, the crop traveled to the rest of Asia and started to get cultivated as a cash crop. The Indian subcontinent also had its introduction with this stimulant fruit bearing palm tree when areca nut started to get popular. Though the time of the origination in India cannot be dated, it can be figured out from the fact that the Indian text and literature as old as around 2000 years contain information about betel nut and the chewing practice. Also, the advantages of consuming nuts and their reputation as a traditional medicine are mentioned in the ancient Ayurveda books dating back to the same period. India adopted the nut so well that consumption of betel nut with a betel leaf and lime gained its place in the daily routine activities of the people. Marco Polo also mentioned about areca nut in the 13th century. With time many other forms of nut consumption like in quid’s have been found and the practice of chewing still prevails even though it has ill effects on health of the human being due to excessive chewing of these nuts. *
INTRODUCTION TO THE TOPIC
Areca nut or betel nut is an extensively cultivated tropical palm, the nuts of which form a popular masticatory in India. It is a tall-stemmed erect palm, reaching varied heights, depending upon the environmental conditions.. Arecanut is consumed both as a raw or ripe nut, as dried ripe nut and as semi-mature nut, cut and processed varieties `Bateldike’ or `Kalipak’ and also it is an essential ingredient of ‘gutka’. There are over 150 trade types, differing in maturity, processing conditions and varying in their taste characteristics as per market conditions prevailing at different centres of the country. Goa is also one of such centres where the production of Arecanut contributes to the overall economy of Goa. It is also popular by the names and Pinang; it is the fruit of betel nut tree and is universally used for consumption and chewing purposes. The betel nut tree is called Areca catechu botanically and belongs to the palm tree species and family of...
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