Global alliance will be formed in cashew sector: Minister

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Kochi, Dec 7 (UNI) Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh today said a global alliance, involving three countries-- India, Vietnam and Brazil-- would be formed in the cashew sector shortly.

Talking to newspersons in a 'meet the press' programme organised here by the Ernakulam Press Club, Mr Ramesh said ''the purpose of the alliance was to take co-ordinated decisions in the cashew sector, taking into account other countries' interest.'' He said the alliance, which could be formed in the next six months, would make sure that the over-production of cashew in one country did not have a destabilising effect on the cashew pricing policy of the other two countries.

The Commerce Ministry was also trying to chalk out policies on the basis of a study report on the cashew industry by the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), the Minister said.

Mr Ramesh reiterated the need to have a promotional board in the cashew sector in India.

On the reopening of closed tea gardens, Mr Ramesh said a committee had been formed under the Chairmanship of O P Arya to study the issue and submit a report on invoking section 16 (E) of the Tea Act, 1953, to take over the gardens by the Centre, if the present owners were reluctant to reopen them.

He said the committee had two representatives from Kerala Government and as many from West Bengal and Assam Governments.

''The takeover of the gardens, which remain closed for more than three months, doesn't mean nationalisation of gardens but an effort to find new owners for the estates,'' he noted.

He said out of 17 closed gardens, nine were reopened in the last six months in Kerala.

The Minister said the Rs 4,760 crore Special Purpose Tea Fund was meant for the replantation and rejuvenation of over 30-year-old tea gardens would be launched in Kerala and Tamil Nadu on January 4.

''The Centre will provide 25 per cent subsidy, the owners will contribute 25 per cent and the rest will be in the form of loans from Banks and financial institutions.'' The fund had already been launched in Assam and West Bengal, he added.

Earlier, Mr Ramesh unveiled the logo of the ruby celebrations of the Press Club here.

UNI

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