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Ramesh Chaurasia - Building stronger foundations for the betel farming community

The Chaurasia community has been linked with betel farming since ancient times. However, the situation for many farmers from marginalized communities is not so well. Under the leadership of MrMr Ramesh Chaurasia, the Akhil Bharatiya Adarsh Chaurasia Mahasabha is trying to actively help the betel farming community in every way possible.

On being asked about their plans, Mr. Ramesh Chaurasia said “We are a nation of farmers and our community has been specifically involved in the trade and farming of betel leaves. Betel vine is a very important plant in Indian culture and its leaves are used in almost every Hindu ritual. It is a plant that has many medicinal and cosmetic uses and has a huge market value as well. Unfortunately, when I talk to betel farmers, they are not generating enough revenue for the hard work that they are putting in. Multiple factors like changing climate, improper storage and rising temperatures are adding up to their problems, causing them losses. We have started different programs which aim at rebuilding the foundations of betel farming because farming methods have changed in just a few years. We are trying to help our community farmers catch up in time.”

Betel vine is a very important plant in Indian culture and its leaves are used in almost every Hindu ritual”

— Ramesh Chaurasia

According to agriculture experts, Betel farming used to be a very profitable trade. Betel leaves or Paan used to be called green gold because of their limitless uses. However, the betel vine is a tropical plant that requires high humidity and moderate temperatures. There are many places in India where temperatures are crossing the 45-degree level and this causes the leaves to prematurely fall off. Too much rain in a short period also causes the leaves of the betel vine to turn yellow and fall off. This has been a reason for great loss for betel farmers.

“We are trying to teach farmers new methods of farming which are more sustainable and eco-friendlier. We organize awareness camps where botanists explain to the farmers, the complexities related to betel vine farming. They are told various methods of using the spoiled leaves by drying them or extracting oil from them. Farmers are educated about the benefits of modern farming methods like multi-layered farming. These farming techniques can help the average farmer generate higher income by growing multiple crops on the same piece of land. We are also arranging camps where farmers are given guidance in availing different government schemes.”- A volunteer at one of the farming seminars expressed their views.

How climate change affects betel farming?

It is widely known that climate change is wreaking havoc on various crops. Extremes of climate are being seen all across the world, including in India. Many areas experience sudden downpours of rain and locals even report that in just one hour they received one month’s rain.

The problem of resources

There are also financial setbacks that the farmers have to face when it comes to betel farming. It is a labour-intensive job and it requires the farmer to set up a greenhouse. They have to buy jute, bamboo and other inventory to create greenhouses where the betel vines are grown and cultivated. Not all farmers can afford to buy enough material for their greenhouses. Add to that, the cost of water and fertilizer.

Benefits of multi-layered farming

Multi-layered farming is essential for these farmers because, on the same piece of land, they can grow a variety of cash crops which can create a healthy micro-ecosystem for betel vines. This has been shown to increase the quality and quantity of produce for farmers. This method also prevents much evaporation and thus less water is consumed. It has been observed that with this modern method of farming, the effect of pests has also been reduced substantially.

So overall, it is now established that modern problems require modern solutions. The only way to provide these solutions is by spreading awareness among farmers and motivating them to continue this noble tradition. The Mahasabha ensures that the youth of the Chaurasia community is educated about the potential within betel farming so that they can continue the tradition of betel trade and farming with a hope for a better future.

Mr Ramesh Lakhulal Chaurasia works along with his team with the hope that all sections of the community may rise and prosper. The organization is working for the welfare of farmers and other sections of the community, opening new doors every day.

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