Minister calls for reorganisation of plantation sector
Bangalore, Aug 25 (UNI) Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jairam Ramesh today called for effective reorganisation of the plantation sector, reeling under ageing crop, dwindling productivity, severe competition from foreign countries, pest attack and stagnated research process.
Addressing a press conference after the conclave attended by agricultural scientists to discuss the crisis in the plantation sector, he said ''everything in the country's plantation sector has become old. We need to take up extensive replantation in coffee, rubber, tea and pepper cultivation. So is the case with research institutions which have remained stagnant since long.'' He stressed the need for use of scientific methods like diversification of crops to bring the plantation sector out of the deep hole.
Mr Ramesh said the twin pillars of investment and research could only steady the sagging plantation sector and lead to increase in productivity and profits.
He pointed out that of the country total exports of 102 billion US Dollars, the plantation sector accounted for just 1.5 billion Dollars. ''What is more important is the welfare of plantation workers who are mainly tribals and predominantly poor,'' he said.
Stating that the future depended on research, Mr Ramesh said '' without research we cannot increase productivity and without good production we cannot survive international competition.'' Highlighting the need for big investments in the plantation sector, he said 40 per cent of the tea crop would have to be replanted in the next 15 years at a cost of Rs 4,700 crore. The Commerce Ministry had chalked out plans to initiate a major replanting process of plantation crops in the country, he added.
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