Sunday, June 7, 2009

The deep green heart shaped leaves of betel vine are popularly known as Paan in India.The fresh leaves of betel vine are popularly known as Paan in India, which are consumed by about 15-20 million people in the country.The scientific name of betel vine is Piper betleL. It belongs to the family Piperaceae, i.e. the Black Pepper family The vine is a dioecious (male and female plants are different), shade loving perennial root climber.
There are about 100 varieties of betel vine in the world, of which about 40 are found in India and30 in West Bengal
It is cultivated following the traditional methods in India on about 55,000 ha with an annual production worth about Rs 9000 million.There is a menacing wastage of the leaves during storage, transportation and the glut season. Moreover, the surplus leaves, if not disposed off properly may cause environmental pollution and health hazards. Such wastage may be minimized by various ways and means including extraction of essential oil from the surplus betel leaves. This oil may be used as an industrial raw material for manufacturing medicines, perfumes, mouth fresheners, tonics, food additives etc. On an average about 66% of such production is contributed by the state of West Bengal where it is cultivated on about 20,000 ha encompassing about 4-5 lakh Boroj employing about the same number of agricultural families.The leaves are nutritive and contain anti carcinogens showing promise for manufacturing of a blood cancer drug. Some disputed reports also claim that chewing betel leaves excessively may cause oral cancer.

Climatic Conditions for its Cultivation

The betel vines (usually the male plants) are cultivated throughout India except the dry northwestern parts. Further, the female plants also rarely produce any flower or fruit in the Indian climate . In spite of that the vines are cultivated for harvesting the heart shaped green leaves. It grows best under the shaded,tropical forest ecological conditions with a rainfall of about 2250-4750 mm,relative humidity and temperature ranging from 40-80%and 15-40°C respectively. A well-drained fertile sandy or sandy loam or sandy clay soil with pH range of 5.6 –8.2 is considered suitable for its cultivation. However, in the areas with lower rainfall (1500- 1700 mm) the crop is cultivated with small and frequent irrigation's, i.e. every day in summer and every 3-4 days in winter, whereas adequate drainage is required during the rainy season. The crop requires special care for its cultivation like sterilization of soil, which is achieved mainly
by solarization.

Propogation of Paan

The vine is raised by vegetative propagation from the cuttings under partially shaded and humid environment inside the Boroj, which is a small hut like structure of approximately 2 m in height and 0.02 ha in area. It is constructed with the locally available materials like bamboo stems,jute sticks, paddy straw, petioles and leaves of banana etc. wherein the vines are grown on elevated beds imitating the natural ecological conditions suitable to the crop. However, height
of the beds goes on increasing due to frequent earthing of the vines. Further, the cuttings from 3-5 years old vines are planted in the furrows (8-10 cm deep) of sterilized soil with spacing of 50-60 cm X 10-20 cm during rainy or autumn season.


The vine is a highly labour intensive crop and a voracious feeder of nutrients requiring about 400-600 Kg N/ha, 200-300 Kg P2O5/ha and 200-250 Kg K2O/ha, which are supplied only through the organic sources, normally the oil cakes, but in some places chemical fertilizer like urea is also being used sparingly now a days.

The initial cost of cultivation of betel vine including construction of a Boroj may be about Rs 1- 2 lakh/ha at the minimum during the first year that may come down to about Rs 0.5-0.6 lakh/ha in the subsequent years and a minimum net profit of Rs 0.5-1.0 lakh/ha/year or more up to Rs.5 lakh/ha/year is not an unexpected value from a well-established farm though the figures may vary due to several factors like Agro-climate, location of the farm, variety, demand and supply, season,variation in price of the leaves (which may vary significantly in the evening compared to morning), inflation etc.Such wild and unwarranted fluctuation in price of betel leaves may discourage cultivation of the crop and endanger the economic stability of the farmers.
This may be safeguarded by evolving a well regulated marketing system for which research work particularly, on the marketing systems and intelligence and allied aspects relevant to the crop are required to be initiated.

Yield Potentials

Moreover, the leaves may also be retained on the vines for about six months without any visual signs and symptoms of deterioration. This again provides an opportunity to escape the dull markets but the total production may get affected. Interestingly, the annual yield of a good crop is about 60-70 leaves/ plant and 6-7 million leaves /ha.

Post Harvest Management of Leaves

The Betel leaf is a very perishable commodity and therefore, always subject to wastage by quick spoilage due to dehydration, fungal infection, dechlorophyllation etc. This may cause a post harvest loss ranging from 35% to 70% during transport and storage . Even if the most conservative estimate of 10% loss were considered that too would reveal a menacing loss of betel leaves worth about Rs 900 million every year to the country. Not only this, particularly in the rainy season a large portion of the leaves remain unsold or sold at a throw away price.In view of the alarming losses, attempts are being made to minimize the wastage by drying the leaves ,controlling senescence by chemical treatments, manipulation of storage temperature, adopting better packaging materials and methods besides curing and bleaching of the leaves . Such wastage may also be minimized by extracting essential oil from the stranded or unsold leaves be it fresh or stale or dechlorophylled or even partially decayed.
Oil are the sources of the medicinal, aromatic, stimulant, tonic and various other useful properties found in the leaves. Such useful properties of the oil indicate a promising industrial future for it as a raw material for manufacturing skin emollients, tooth-pastes, tooth-powders, paan masala, perfumes, room fresheners, soaps, face creams, antiseptic creams and lotions,Deodorants, cold drinks, chocolates, incense sticks, appetizers, carminative mixtures digestive agents, tonics, medicines etc.

Medicinal and Nutritive Value of Paan

Betel leaf is traditionally known to be useful for the treatment of various diseases like bad breath, boils and abscesses, conjunctivitis, constipation, headache, hysteria, itches, mastitis,mastoiditis, leucorrhoea, otorrhoea, ringworm, swelling of gum, rheumatism, abrasion, cuts and injuries etc as folk medicine while the root is known for it’s female contraceptive effects the essential oil contained in the leaves possesses antibacterial, anti protozoan and anti fungal properties. Therefore, the oil kills or inhibits growth of dreadful bacteria causing typhoid,cholera, tuberculosis etc.

The leaves are also in great demand in several other countries of the world where it is either not grown at all or the demand exceeds the local supply. Consequently, leaves worth about Rs 30-40 million are exported to the countries like Bahrain, Canada, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Italy, Kuwait, Nepal, Pakistan, Saudi Arab and many other European countries. This clearly indicates the foreign exchange earning potentiality of the crop. If merely transportation and marketing facilities including the export channels were developed adequately then the revenue generated by this leafy crop would easily exceed that generated by any major crop of the country even with the present level of traditional agronomic practices. In fact, the revenue generated by the crop may be further magnified by many folds if the agronomic practices are scientifically explored .
Betel leaf is one of the most promising commercial crops capable of attracting substantial amount of foreign exchange to the country.

(compiled and written by Harsh Saxena)


  1. Very useful article Mr. Harsh Saxena. Very true. It is a highly promising crop. Thanks.

  2. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


    Tonsil Stones Removal Guide

  3. What a useless article it just gives the cultivation practices of betelvine

  4. What a useless article it just gives the cultivation practices of betelvine


Site Meter