KOTTAYAM: Continuing with the previous government’s generous approach towards the plantation sector, the second Pinarayi Vijayan government, in its latest budget, earmarked Rs 2 crore each for plantation crop diversification and strengthening of the the Plantation Directorate set up last year.
Finance Minister K N Balagopal also made a call for united efforts on the part of states concerned to protect the plantation sector. He said there should be a mechanism for cultivation, procurement, storage and finding market for new fruit varieties like rambutan, avocado and dragon fruit, mangosteen, longan etc. in addition to traditional plantation crops.
The diversification of plantation crops has been a long-pending demand of the planters. Welcoming the initiative, the Association of Planters of Kerala (APK) office-bearers said it would be positive development for the revival of the ailing sector. “We strongly welcome the announcements in the Budget. We hope that these steps would be implemented at the earliest after due discussions with stakeholders and various government departments,” said APK chairman S B Prabhakar.
The recommendations should be implemented keeping in mind the long term sustainability of the plantations and welfare of the workers, he said. This apart, giving a major relief to the rubber farmers, the budget has set aside `50 crore for paying entire arrears in rubber subsidy to farmers under Rubber Price Incentive Scheme of the state govt.