Agri Business

Kerala plantation industry seeks policy support from State govt

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on January 13, 2018 Published on March 01, 2017

Kerala's plantation industry is looking for policy support from the State government to sustain the sector, which is passing through a severe crisis due to the high cost of production and a drought.

Industry representatives who met State Finance Minister Thomas Issac sought support by way of abolition of plantation tax and agricultural income tax, removal of seigniorage on rubber trees and financial support for soil and water conservation facilities.

The representatives highlighted the urgency in the wake of the severe crop loss and estates' inability to offer employees work.

“If this situation continues and if the MNREGS programmes can be extended to the plantation workers during this summer season, it will mitigate the ill effects of climate change on employment”, said Thomas Jacob, Chairman, Association of Planters of Kerala (APK).

Production plummets

APK, in a pre budget memorandum, pointed out that the plantation sector is passing through one of the worst droughts in 115 years and output has plunged 30 per cent in tea, 14 per cent in rubber, 60 per cent in cardamom and 40 per cent in coffee.

Kerala is the only state in South India to levy agricultural income tax at 30 per cent whereas it is zero in Tamil Nadu. This high rate put the industry without any surplus to plough back into plantations for further development, thus leaving it perennially sick.

With regard to seigniorage on rubber trees, the planters body said that Kerala levies ₹2,500 per cubic metre, nearly the value of timber. Rubber cultivation being an agricultural operation, it is unjustifiable for seigniorage to be levied on trees, it said.

Thus resource-generation capacity to replant from existing rubber plantations has become highly restricted.

This exorbitant rate depletes grower from funds to take up re-plantation, the body added.

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Published on March 01, 2017
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