Centre for economic, policy research for plantation sector

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Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 7 (UNI) The National Centre for Economic Research and Plantations, incorporating the institutes in Assam and North India, to be set up here will be a centre for economic and policy research for the plantation sector, according to Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh.

Speaking to reporters the Minister, who was here for discussing with the Centre For Development Studies which had been allotted Rs five crore in the Union Budget for starting the plantation research institute, said, ''it will be a centre for creating knowledge based approach to intervene in the plantation sector.'' He said they were looking forward to collaborate all the boards in the plantation sector with this institute. A meeting of the board directors had been called in May for a vision document, he added.

Stating that the country was facing threats in the plantation sector from other global players, Mr Ramesh said an institute for the plantation sector would be able to contribute substantially.

He also said that the challenge was how plantation sector would provide life security as well as income security.

Mr Ramesh pointed out that all the scientific research institutes in the country would be made on par with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, which would help to attract and retain scientific talent.

Regarding re-plantation, he alleged that Kerala had not spent any money from the Rs 30 crore, allotted for pepper re-plantation in 20,000 hectare.

''A dispute is going on in this regard. Wayanad and Idukki has been identified for the re-plantation. The Centre has asked the state government to take the responsibility of one district and the spices board to take re-plantation in the another district. But the state government wanted to take the responsibility in both the districts and till today no money has been spent,'' he said.

Kerala Finance Minister T M Thomas Issac, who was also present, said he was not aware of the allocation. He also pointed out that the government would rethink of the strategy.

Regarding tea re-plantation, Mr Ramesh said of the 52 tea gardens in the state, 21 have applied for the scheme. The re-plantation in the tea sector was going on well, he added.


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