Huge demand for areca nut leaf plates; more units planned in Kerala
Thrissur: There is huge demand for the eco-friendly plates made from areca nut leaf spathe. Though the raw material is available aplenty in Kerala, areca nut leaf plate manufacturing units are more found in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
The locals collect the falling spathes in these states and bring them to manufacturing units. However, about 90 percent of areca nut leaf spathes in Kerala are wasted due to ignorance of market value.
There are about 50 areca nut leaf plate making units in the state. In Thrissur, the plate making units export plates to Europe and Gulf countries. About 24 lakh plates are exported from Deepam Palm Dishes in Thrissur.
The plates that are white in colour, firm and unbreakable are suitable for exporting. One plate costs Rs 16 in Europe and Rs 13 in Dubai. According to the size of the spathe, plates can be made in different sizes ranging from 3-12 inches.
T K Rajesh Kumar, owner of Deepam Palm Dish unit in Olari, said that they are unable to meet the huge demand. Discussions are progressing with companies in Israel and Japan.
If raw material is available locally, it will bring down price and would benefit the common people. The remnants of areca nut leaf can be used as cattle feed. About 50 types of dishes are made from areca nut leaf, Rajesh Kumar added.
Lonappan Panthallookaran, one of the palm dish innovators in Thrissur, said that there was plans of starting areca nut leaf plate making units when Elamaram Kareem was the minister for industries.
RBI and Canara Bank stated in a survey report in 2002 that the project would be successful. A meeting was held with the then president APJ Abdul Kalam. The responsibility of collecting the spathes can be entrusted with Kudumbashree, Lonappan suggested.