Agri Business

Planters pitch for a national policy to stay afloat

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on January 08, 2018

Affected by laws and what it calls an unfair treatment by various government departments, the plantation sector is batting for a national policy on plantations vis-a-vis environment and forests, to stay afloat in this competitive environment.

Several existing laws binding plantations and forests, coupled with scores of expert committee reports have impacted the prospects of plantation business of all stakeholders. Plantations, according to planters, are industry and are governed by respective commodities acts. Therefore, there is a need for a linkage between environment laws and plantation laws for the sector’s long-term sustainability.

The recently-concluded Upasi convention at Coonoor had discussed the issues connected with environment, forests and plantations.

Land holdings

Taking into account the long-term business prospects of plantations, planters favoured receiving the much needed security of the land holdings which is fundamental for sustaining the long-term interest of investors. The value of land is one of the key business strengths and asset of the plantation industry, which more often than not is impacted by pressure of margins and fluctuating commodity prices.

The security of land holdings in plantation business will definitely promote investor interest and investment support, which is fundamental to this long-term industry, N Dharmaraj, former Upasi President, who moderated the discussion told BusinessLine.

Seeking clarity with regard to exclusion of plantations under forest areas, planters raised concern on ESA (eco-sensitive area) notification, which would have a bearing on future developments in plantations.

Plantations and forests

Likewise, the exemption of plantations from animal buffer zones; restrictions on rubber trees felling and imposing seigniorage on rubber trees; imposition of Access and Benefit sharing cess to levy certain agricultural activities for use of natural resources like air and water, legitimate use of herbicides and weedicides, restrictions on discharge of effluents, etc, all are going to hamper the business.

“All these issues call for a national plantation policy which should acknowledge the ecological services rendered by plantations measured on a scientific basis and this could augur well for the image building of the plantation industry,” Dharmaraj said.

Quoting Indian State of Forest Report 2015, he pointed out that there is an increase of 1,317 sq km forest area in Kerala and the main reason for increase in forest cover is due to commercial plantations. Plantation provides the highest tree canopy density among cultivated crops. Rubber provides highest carbon sequestration among the cultivated crops.

Published on October 19, 2017

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