Agri Business

Kerala planters body for re-look at farm trade pacts

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on September 28, 2020 Published on September 28, 2020

The plantation industry had been undergoing severe financial stress even before the pandemic hit the sector

‘Cost control alone is not enough; optimum utilisation of labour, natural resources, capital is the need of the hour’

The Association of Planters of Kerala has suggested to the Central Government that it take a re-look at all multilateral trade agreements and withdraw from those that are detrimental to the interests of farmers.

“Multilateral trade agreements have never been farmer-friendly. Instead of protecting their interests, they have always exposed them to uncontrolled import of commodities,” said BP Kariappa, the outgoing chairman of the Association of Planters of Kerala.

“If it was rubber growers suffering earlier, now it is tea and cardamom, which is imported without any restrictions. The tactics followed by importers is to suppress domestic prices,” he said while addressing the annual general meeting of the association.

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The world is changing and the plantation sector should adapt to the changes, especially on the aspects of cultivation, processing, marketing and logistics. The time has come to change the production strategy by focusing on the retail customer, he said.

The Covid-19 pandemic has opened before the sector the infirmities of the established world supply chains. “We now need to identify new supply chains, new marketing avenues, and, if possible, new products,” he said.

The plantation industry had been undergoing severe financial stress even before the pandemic hit the sector. There is an exponential increase in cost of production and the sector has reached a stage where any further reduction is near impossible, said Kariappa.

“Single-minded focus on cost control will not suffice to meet the current situation and there is a need for optimum utilisation of labour, available natural resources, and deployment of capital in the present circumstances,” he said.

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Kariappa also emphasised that changes in ground realities call for labour reforms in the plantation sector without any further delay. Reforms should be carried out in such a way that it presents a win-win situation for all stakeholders, he said. Also, the wage policy should be re-oriented towards a productivity-linked wage system.

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Published on September 28, 2020
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