The Kerala government is preparing a comprehensive plan to tap the enormous potential of the State’s plantation sector as a driver of economic growth, based on a set of initiatives including financial support, incentives and skilling of farmers and workers.

“We are in a mission mode to revive the plantation sector by developing various support systems and proposing needed policies that would provide impetus to the plantation sector and help it grow to the next level,” S Harikishore, Director, Industries and Commerce, and Special Officer, Plantation, said ahead of the second edition of the three-day Kerala Plantation Expo to be held in the Kochi from January 20.

Kerala has 7.11 lakh hectares of plantations, mainly rubber, tea, coffee and cardamom, across its vast Western Ghats region. The State accounted for 72 per cent of India’s rubber production, 91 per cent of cardamom, 20.4 per cent of coffee and 4.5 per cent of tea in 2021-22.

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In 2021, the State government established the Directorate of Plantations, the first of its kind in the country, under the Department of Industries and Commerce, with a mandate to revitalise the sector, improve productivity, and explore potential markets for its value-added products.

The government is also actively considering a proposal to allow planters to increase the extent of land permissible in the estates for non-plantation activities from the existing five per cent. A single window clearance for converting the status of the land for value-addition and including new crops in plantation sector are also under active consideration.

These initiatives will improve the processing and value-addition of their products in addition to expanding, replanting, and productivity, which can enhance the revenue flow.

“By promoting value addition and effective marketing, optimal and sustainable utilisation of natural resources can be ensured for plantation products. It will also improve profit margins, benefiting both the promoters and the labour force,” Harikishore pointed out.

The directorate is promoting entrepreneurship in the sector by giving capital subsidies for value-addition and formulating plantation marketing schemes.

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Harikishore said the directorate will coordinate with the labour, agriculture, power, taxes and revenue departments to ensure the quality of farm produce and the welfare of labourers. It will also liaise with export promotion bodies like the Tea Board, Coconut Board, Coffee Board, Rubber Board and the Cashew Export Promotion Council of India.

“These measures will help improve productivity in a big way, resulting in better income and substantial improvement in the workers’ quality of life,” he added.