Kochi: The Association of Planters of Kerala (APK) in the state, comprising four major crops, has suffered a loss of Rs 3,070.85 crore in the floods that hit Kerala in August. Speaking to reporters on Friday, APK chairman Thomas Jacob said the loss estimated by Dr. KJ Joseph of Centre for Development Studies covers short and long term impacts of the floods on cardamom, rubber, tea and coffee.
The rubber sector has suffered the maximum short-term losses to the tune of Rs 1,130.36 crore followed by cardamom with Rs 419.47 crore. The short-term losses in tea and coffee were Rs 73.77 crore and Rs 95.25 crore respectively. The medium and long term losses in the sector totaled Rs 1,351.19 crore.Stressing on the importance of the sector for overall economic and environmental well being of the state, Mr. Jacob said the government should formulate a comprehensive policy for the plantation sector on a priority basis. The major suggestions of APK in this regard included flexibility in the section of crops, agricultural loans for plantation sector and minimum support price for plantation crops.
Cultivation of fruit crops, bamboo, indigenous trees of timber value as intercrop, multi-crop or stand alone crop without changing the basic structure of a existing plantations is one of the suggestions put forward by the APK.
Extending support for through climate change mitigation fund to the plantation sector for soil and water conservation and biodiversity strengthening and encouraging value addition through cluster development scheme to increase the returns of the grower and improve employment opportunities are the other major suggestions.
According to Mr. Jacob the cost of production of all the plantation crops in the state is above the prevailing price and one of the options to overcome the challenge is to increase the per unit productivity of each crop.
The cost of production of tea is Rs 140 per kg while average price for Kerala origin tea was Rs 108.30 per kg. The average price of rubber was Rs 129.80 per kg in 2017-18 while cost of production stood around Rs 172-Rs 175 per kg. In the case of cardamom average price hovered at Rs 953 per kg while cost of production is estimated to be Rs 1,250 per kg.