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Nivedan hails from Mandagadde village of Thirthahalli taluk in Shivamogga district. The idea struck him last year during a discussion with friends who were worried that the Union government would ban chewing of areca. Areca is mainly used for gutka-making. Many states have already banned the sale of gutka. A case is also pending before the Supreme Court in this regard.
"Our family too has areca plantations. I saw people worried about the future of the crop. Developing products has always been my passion. I spent nearly six months reading and researching the crop. I then looked at the consumable option and learnt how to extract tannin, a component also found in tea. Chinese herbalists have used betel nut for centuries in herbal decoctions and pills. I have been successful in manufacturing dip tea bags and extracting tannin from areca. The drink comprises 80 per cent areca extract from red processed areca, also known as 'Bette' and the remaining 20 per cent from 18 varieties of herbs," he said.
The product is ready and is in the process of being patented.
"We are looking for suitable investors or may consider manufacturing ourselves. Last month, the areca tea was well appreciated at a meeting of the Areca Research and Development Foundation. They were impressed with the taste too.
The tea is an appetiser, antioxidant and has anti-ageing qualities. It is a good alternative to green tea and Indian tea. This is a product discovered in India and areca growers need to support the same.
Nuts and bolts of areca
Areca nut palm is a commercial crop. There are two varieties of areca nut - white and red. The white variety is found by harvesting fully ripe areca nut and by sun-drying for 40 to 50 days. After drying the nut, its shell has to be removed. The nut derived from this dried fruit is called Areca nut or betel nut. The red variety is prepared by harvesting tender (green) areca nut and peeling the husk. The nut derived by peeling the tender nut is processed as per the variety required, boiled, and then sun dried. The white variety i.e. Chali variety of areca is mainly grown in South Canara and North Canara of Karnataka state and northern parts of Kerala. The red variety of areca nut is mainly produced in Shivamogga, Chikkamagaluru, North Canara, Chitradurga and Tumakuru districts of Karnataka.
Credits:Deepthi Sanjiv, Bangalore