The case of magahi betel leaf (paan)

Magahi betel leaf (Paan) is an variety of betel grown in south Bihar region and mostly in Aurangabad, Gaya and Nalanda districts. This paan, is about 3.5 to 9.5 inches in size. It’s non-fibrous, sweeter, tastier and the got GI tagged in 2018 alongwith Jardalu mango and katarni rice

Magahi paan was popular even during ancient times. It is claimed that prince Vijai Mal was fond of Magahi paan and it is mentioned in the 1884 book of GA Grierson, an Irish administrator and linguist in British India. Several other references had been cited in the journal to establish Magahi paan being an exclusive produce of Magadh region

Magahi paan is sown during March-May each year, with leaves plucked during January-March. Each plant can give 40-60 leaves, yielding 500 dholis per year per katha .Every year, farmers have to sow new plants. When everything goes well, farmers can earn Rs 70,000-1,00,000 from one katha of land.

Problems encountered by betel leaf (paan) farmers

There is lack of insurance or MSP facility to the farmers. it is highly susceptible to bad weather conditions and is classified as  horticulture, not agriculture product. Money is paid in installments by the buyer and  Sometimes money is paid after one and a half years to the farmers.

Number of paan farmers is on the decline because of lack of any state help to ease their high cost of production, as the plant requires an artificial conservatory to grow.

Future ahead

A tie up between Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) and Bihar Agricultural University (sabaur) is currently under process. Plan is to export GI tagged products Makhana, Jardalu Mango, Shear Rice, Litchi and Magahi Pan.

Let’s hope the things gets better and government policies should be made and implemented in a way keeping the problems faced by farmers and their needs at centre. Then, only these betel growing farmers will get benefitted from those government benefits.