No more Fresh Paan from the Bundelkhand Hinterland

DSCN0113Mahoba. Well known for its history of Alha Udal and for its paan (betel) farming,  scores of men and women are seen at Mahoba railway station selling fresh paan leaves. Of late, fewer and fewer farmers in Mahoba are choosing to farm the paan crop. Paan farmers in the district submitted an application on the matter to the District Magistrate this week.

Most farmers claim that this increasing disinterest in paan farming is due to heavy investments required in maintaining the crop and very little help being given by the government and the local administration. ‘We’ve been surviving on paan farming for many years but it seems that the coming generation will not be taking this forward,’ says a disgruntled Kallu. ‘Paan farming and maintenance of the fields takes a lot of work and care. With unpredictable seasonal changes, every kind of crop is suffering in Bundelkhand. As a result, the sensitive paan crop stands no chance and we end up incurring heavy losses,’ adds another paan farmer Dayashankar.

According to these farmers, growing paan on 1 bigha of land costs upto 2 lakh rupees. ‘There are additional costs when one is growing paan. The crop needs shade and protection from direct sunlight so we have to construct bamboo meshes as well. This season with thick fog and very low temperatures, much of the paan crop was unable to thrive,’ says Ramesh.

Paan farmers from various villages in Mahoba submitted an application to the District Magistrate (D.M.) Veereshwar Singh on 28 January. ‘All that we were given was assurance that something would be done,’ says Kallu. The Sub Divisional Magistrate (S.D.M.) of Mahoba Rakesh Kumar Gupta agreed that paan farming was bearing more losses than profits for these farmers. ‘We will give orders for a survey to measure each farmer’s losses and compensation and help will be decided accordingly,’ he said.

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