Kerala plantation sector urges govt to pass reform bill

Written by Commodities Bureau | Kochi | Updated: Dec 24 2008, 06:32am hrs
The plantation sector in Kerala has asked the state government to implement the Kerala Land Reforms (Amendment) Bill 2004, which enables plantation companies to use 5% of their land for other commercial purposes as the global recession tighetens its grip on the entire economy. The state government of Assam has already allowed the plantations to use up to 10% of their land for diversified activities, MP Cherian, chairman, The Association of Planters of Kerala (APK), said.

The current economic turbulence has started to adversely affect the Indian economy and prices of plantation crops have fallen, he said. Rubber prices have dropped from Rs 145 in September 2008 to Rs 60 in December 2008, registering a decline of 59%. Tea prices have dropped by almost 20% during the same period.

The plantation industry had recently given a sustained increase in wages payable to workers, Cherian said. In the case of rubber, the increase has been as high as 70% and in the other crops, the rise in wages is 20% - 50%.

The sector cannot survive the crisis on its own and needs help from the government, he said. Passing the bill will enable plantations to promote floriculture, medicinal plants and tourism in the land and bring in additional revenue,Cherian added.