Estates will get more income by growing fruit trees as subsidiary crop
The crisis-ridden plantation sector in the State is expected to benefit hugely by the diversification proposal in the State Budget presented on Friday. An amount of ₹2 crore has been set aside for a project for promoting cultivation of subsidiary crops, mainly fruit varieties such as rambutan, avocado, dragon fruit, and mangosteen, in plantations. The government intends to formulate policy and implement the project within six months.
The plantation sector is struggling because of a fall in price and shortage of workers. In the tea sector alone, many small estates have remained closed for nearly two decades, prompted by a steep fall in international tea prices at that time. The subsidiary crops will provide income to such estates. Planters said there was also the prospect of export of value-added products.
Steep fall in income
The plantation sector has generally welcomed the move. Thomas Jacob, former chairman, Association of Planters of Kerala (APK), said it was a long-term demand of the plantation sector. The plantations have to create additional income for their survival. During 2011-13, the total income from the plantation sector in the State was over ₹20,000 crore. It has come down to ₹7,000 crore now. “The decision will help the sector regain its past glory. The government should implement the project without delay,” said Mr. Jacob.
However, a former manager of a closed small-scale tea estate in Peerumade taluk said concrete measures had to be taken to open the shut down estates. An earlier package for reopening these estates had not yielded result. “Diversification is a long-drawn process. More time and investment are needed to get an income from diversification in such shut down estates,” he said. However, for managements of functional estates, including rubber, the move would yield positive results, he said.
Source: Read Full Article