Arecanut Plate – The Eco-Friendly Option for Celebrations

Sunday, October 7,  2018

In Byse village, Karnataka, members from two Self-Help Groups (SHGs) are turning the byproducts of areca nut tree cultivation into an additional source of income. The women are making plates out of fallen leafs from the areca nut palm tree. There are two sizes of plates, 4 and 10 inches in diameter, which are used for functions and celebrations as an eco-friendly alternative to the use of plastic plates, which are a major source of environmental pollution.

Two years ago the SHGs started making their first plates. A local trainer demonstrated how to manufacture them, AMMACHI Labs fixed a pressure machine that is needed for giving the plates the correct shape, and Amrita SeRVe village coordinator Ganesh Sherigar is connecting the SHGs directly to the buyers, so that they can sell their products independently.

These are the steps for making the plates:

  • Collecting fallen areca nut leaves
  • Drying the leaves in the sunlight
  • Placing the completely dried leaves in a water tank for 45-60 minutes
  • Drying them again in the sunlight
  • Putting a leaf into the pressure machine for 2-3 minutes. It has a flame for heating to bend and give a shape for the plate
  • Cutting away excess material

The plates are used, for example, to serve puja prasad and similar events where food is distributed. Instead of plastic plates, this is an eco-friendly option for catering at large functions. In 2017 these two SHGs received an order for 8000 plates to be used during Amma’s birthday celebrations. In their local area, the SHGs have made 300 plates for small events in nearby locations. Village coordinator Ganesh is connecting them to more buyers in the next larger city.

Plans for the future come from a factory of areca nut plate making and export in the nearby city. There is interest in collaborating with the SHGs. Village coordinator Ganesh has arranged for connections between the business owners and the SHGs. Now the rainy season is under way and it is too moist to work with the leafs. In the coming December, when the monsoon will have passed, production of the plates will commence once again.

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