Centre clears scheme to rejuvenate cash crops in Kerala

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New Delhi, Nov 13 (UNI) Kerala's cash crops are poised for a big jump in production in the next few years as the Centre today cleared a few schemes on the replanting of pepper, cashew and coconut crops in sizeable areas of the southern state.

Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh told mediapersons that replanting would be undertaken in 200,000 hectares of land under pepper cultivation in the next ten years.

Out of this 20,000 hectares would be covered during 2007-08. The centre would provide an assistance totalling Rs 30 crore under the pepper rejuvenation scheme.

Kerala accounts for 90 per cent of pepper produced in India, which is one of the major global producers of this spice, known as "black pearl." Kerala Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran today met Mr Ramesh earlier in the day and discussed the several proposals pending for clearance before the Centre.

Mr Ramesh said the Centre had recently cleared a scheme to replant old cashew trees in Kerala. The scheme, being taken up under the National Horticultural Mission, entails replanting of cashew trees in 20,000 hectares in the next ten years. As many as 2,000 hectares would be covered under the scheme this year.

A total of Rs 30 crore has been sanctioned for this project,he added.

He said the Centre would soon give clearance for a Rs 480 crore project for the rejuvenation of coconut cultivation in India.

However, Kerala would get 90 per cent of the outlay earmarked for the scheme.

Under the scheme, being cleared by the Union Cabinet in the next two weeks, replanting would be undertaken in a total of 460,000 hectares of land now under coconut cultivation. Out of this, 400,000 hectares were in India.

On the opposition to import of palmolein through Kerala ports, Mr Ramesh said there were demands for this oil in some other parts of the country.


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