Focussing on crop diversification, Kerala’s plantation sector eyes ₹30,000 crore turnover in 5 years

Kerala’s plantation sector is focussing to enhance its products value to ₹30,000 crore with an employment generation of five lakh in the next five years.

“The task is difficult, but not impossible to achieve, especially with the support of the Kerala Government. The diversification of the revenue streams should be the top most priority to achieve this goal”, SB Prabhakar, Chairman, Association of Planters of Kerala (APK) said.

The measures cited by APK to augment the income are from current plantation crops, regenerative agro-forestry and Silviculture, cultivation of tropical fruits, vegetables, allied animal husbandry activities and value-addition, responsible ecotourism initiatives and renewable energy generation.

Crop value

With ₹30,000 crore turnover and another 50 per cent through value-addition, APK chairman said the total value of products will be around ₹45,000 crore. If five per cent GST is applied, the direct contribution to the exchequer by the plantation sector will be ₹2,750 crore per annum. Also, with additional employment generated and additional spending GST revenues will rise indirectly as well.

The value of plantation crops during 2020-21 was ₹10,574 crore as against ₹21,000 crore in 2012-13. The decline in value was mainly due to the price crash of the commodities at that time and the ill-effects of climate change that had hindered production, he said.

According to Prabhakar, the single revenue stream of mono-crop culture has outlived its utility since the advent of free market economy. With wide range of agro-climatic zones, Kerala has the potential to grow the majority of the crops that are grown elsewhere in the country.

Policy support

Citing the Kerala Agricultural University report on the crops that can be grown in the region, Prabhakar has sought policy support and permission from the government to implement it quickly.

“We can augment our income per acre to around ₹5-6 lakh per acre by adopting fruit crops with precision farming and drip irrigation facilities”, he added.

The State government should formulate a regenerative agro-forestry policy that ensures incentives to the growers and participatory approach from all the stakeholders. The agro-forestry should be free of Seigniorage to motivate growers to adopt the same, he said.

The plantation sector could not harness the real tourism potential so far despite depicting a plantation picture in any tourism brochures about God’s Own Country. “If nurtured properly, responsible ecotourism can be a game changer for the plantation industry”, he added.

Source: Einnews

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