Agri Business

Upasi annual meet delayed, but sees many youngsters taking part

L.N. Revathy Anil Urs Coonoor | Updated on March 12, 2018

Ministers give it a miss at the last minute

The Annual Plantation Conference hosted by the apex association in the South – The United Planters Association of Southern India (Upasi) appears to be losing its sheen in recent years.

Union Ministers, who have confirmed participation, have in the last 4-5 years given the event a go at the last minute leaving Upasi to find either a local Member of Parliament or the Chairperson of one of the commodity boards stand-in to inaugurate the conference.

This year, the association postponed the event by more than a month to October 23 and 24, hoping to get the Union Commerce Minister, Mr Anand Sharma, participate in this annual conference.

People in the know of developments say that for the first time in the history of Upasi has the conference been postponed by over a month. (It has for the last four-five decades been conducting the event by mid-September as a ritual).

When this did not materialise, the association sought time from the Union Minister for Rural Development, Mr Jairam Ramesh, and the Minister for Labour and Employment, Mr Mallikarjun Kharge. Though Mr Jairam Ramesh had confirmed his programme, it is learnt that he could not make it at the last minute.

The postponement of the conference, it now appears has not brought about the desired effect.

The association even departed from its usual format of arranging the commodity outlook session a day-ahead of the annual conference.

Over dependence on the elected representatives and ministers, missing schedule-deadline in the conduct of the annual meet seems to have taken its toll on the attendance at this year's meet with more than half the members giving it a miss.

Young minds

A visible, yet welcome change was the presence of plantation owners' children taking part in all the deliberations this year, eagerly listening to the older generation.

Mr M.D. Balakrishna, former Upasi President (1988-89) and a coffee planter from Chikmagalur, said, “Earlier, the meets were orderly, for the corporate brought their professional work culture in managing the events and organising them. The annual meets used to be held much early, before the crop year commenced. Now only few corporates are in the sector; many have withdrawn. With their absence, the onus is on the plantation owners and few service providers to managing the meets annually.”

Plantation owners have two issues on hand – manage the trade body and manage their estate besides coping with the changing national and global policies. This has delayed the younger generations to actively involve on both platforms.

Many plantation owners' children do work in different industries such as banking, managing cafes or at different value chain of commodity processing before going back to managing their estates. This has also delayed them to take a plunge in serving the trade bodies.

Talking about the diverse talent younger generation is bringing to the trade bodies, Mr Marvin Rodrigues, Vice-Chairman, Karnataka Planters' Association (KPA) and a planter from Hassan, said, “youngsters are coming back to the plantation sector after having worked at industries. For me, managing labour shortages on the estate has taught me good HR skills.”

Mr Bose Mandana, former Vice-Chairman of the Coffee Board and a coffee planter from Kodagu, said: “We have come long way to reach a stage in managing our trade bodies ourselves. When total export controls were in place, we had limited or no role to play in marketing the produce. Now, we are free to manage, but problems are plenty.”

Published on October 23, 2011

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