Aimed at making Kerala a carbon-neutral state, the government is considering introducing a multi-crop system in the plantations, according to P Prasad, State Agriculture Minister.

Addressing the annual general meeting of the Association of Planters of Kerala (APK), the Minister called upon planters to introduce more value-added products from plantations in the market so as to remain competitive. Plantation crops can provide a major revenue contribution to the State’s economy.

He also assured the planters body of extending government support to the sector for their meaningful demands.

K Mathew Abraham, Vice President, United Planters Association of South India (Upasi), said that he urged the government to give the freedom to convert a large percentage of their land under plantations for alternate crops and other activities. Alternate crops will provide a cushion for economic sustainability when traditional crops are not performing well in the market.

He suggested the introduction of a robust policy mechanism to integrate agroforestry in Kerala plantations so that the State can become a leading timber producer and exporter. This will enable employment generation, climatic resilience, and soil and water conservation besides saving a huge foreign exchange for the country. More area in plantations would be allowed for silviculture for the survival and sustainability of the plantations, he added.

A K Jaleel, the outgoing chairman, said that he urged the government to permit 30 per cent of the plantation area to take up agro-based products and agroforestry. He added that such a step would make Kerala, which is perennially importing fruits, vegetables, and cereals, a self-sufficient state. He pointed out that scientific and technical research is the need of the hour in the sector to increase productivity for which the government should create a special purpose fund.

The annual general meeting elected Prince Thomas George of Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Co Ltd as the new chairman of APK, while T R Radhakrishnan of Aspinwall & Company will be the vice chairman.