The commerce ministry is busy fixing HR and legal issues to clear the way for merger of commodity boards into an umbrella body to improve production and export of plantation crops like tea, coffee and spices. The five commodity boards, under the Ministry of Commerce, are responsible for production, development and export of tea, coffee, rubber, spices and tobacco.
“We are looking at that (merger). There are issue like human resources, legal and legislative,” a ministry official said. The official reasoned that one umbrella board with different verticals will help provide better services to the sectors concerned.
Some of these boards were set up way back in 1940s and their merger could help in harmonising their activities and in turn, enhance the quality and boost export.The Coffee Board is a statutory organisation constituted under the Coffee Act, 1942. Similarly, the Rubber Board was constituted under the Rubber Act, 1947.
While the Tea Board was set up on April 1, 1954, under the Tea Act, 1953, the Tobacco Board was formed in January 1976. The Spices Board was born in February 1987. These crops contribute to the country’s export in a big way and also create huge employment.
In March, export of tea, coffee and spices recorded a growth of 25.6 per cent, 11.3 per cent and 79.24 per cent, respectively. Agri-products account for over 10 per cent of the country’s total export pie. To boost agri-export, the commerce ministry has asked exporters to explore new markets and ship value-added products.