Cabinet to approve replantation of cash crops before Budget

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New Delhi, Jan 20 (UNI) Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh has said the final decision regarding the replantation scheme for coffee, rubber, pepper, cardamom, coconuts and cashew is expected to be taken up by Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) before the forthcoming Budget.

''I hope the CCEA will give its approval for the replantation of coffee, rubber, pepper, cardamom, coconuts and cashew before the forthcoming Budget,'' the Minister told reporters here yesterday.

The scheme is to help small and marginal growers the most.

The scheme is being initiated to tackle production challenges.

He informed that the Expenditure Committee under the Finance Ministry has already cleared the scheme and now it is before the CCEA.

The coffee replantation will cover an area of 40,000 hectares entailing an expenditure of Rs 180 crore, rubber in 33,500 hectares with Rs 323 crore, pepper in one lakh hectares with Rs 300 crore, cardamom in 65,000 hectares with Rs 122 crore, cashew in 50,000 hectares with Rs 60 crore over the next five years, while cococut replantation will be done over 4,56,000 hectares with Rs 1,350 crore in the next 10 years, the Minister said.

Being the number one in terms of rubber productivity across the world, Mr Ramesh said the rubber production which is currently Kerala centric will be expanded to the northeaster states such as Tripura and Assam in the next ten years.

The government had last year approved a similar scheme for tea replantation as a part of which about 40 per cent of the five lakh hectares under tea plantations will be replanted with a total cost of Rs 4,760 crore over the next 15 years under a special subsidy scheme launched last year by the Centre, he said.

He said 6,700 hectares of replantation has been taken up after the completion of the first year of the scheme, though this was below the target of 11,000 hectares for the year to achieve the target by 2015.

''The Centre is offering 25 per cent subsidy to them and a soft loan from financial institutions of up to 50 per cent. The planters need to put in only the remaining 25 per cent of the cost,'' the Minister said.

UNI SBA SR AS1359

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