Kerala cabinet decided to pressure Ministry of Commerce, Government of India to include Kerala in the National Agricultural Export Promotion Scheme. Kerala is a better place to establish export hubs of agriculture products, but not given proper representation, Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister of Kerala has said. The draft of National Agricultural Export Policy published by the Commerce Ministry had proposed the idea of developing export clusters for 22 crops in 50 districts across the country. Kerala has got a representation in two districts only, Ernakulam for pineapple and Wayanad for ginger. Kerala now demands for export centres of rubber at Kottayam,Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam and Kannur, Banana clusters in Thrissur, Wayanad and Thiruvananthapuram, a mango cluster in Wayanad and turmeric in Wayanad and Alappuzha. The proposal also demands Cashew cluster in Kasargod, pepper cluster in Wayanad, coconut cluster in Kozhikode and tea cluster in Idukki.
In the letter sent by Chief Minister to Commerce Minister highlights that Centre identified 3 districts of Tripura for setting up rubber export cluster but none from Kerala which produces 80% of natural rubber. State Agriculture Minister V.S.Sunil Kumar expressed his disappointment in the first list published by the Ministry and he said, Kerala conveyed the anxiety to the concerned and expects a positive result.
Later addressing the representatives of farmers’ organizations, Chief Minister of Kerala accused Central Government for its anti farmer policies that lead farmers to suicide. He stressed the need to focus on value addition of products and aggressive marketing that would ensure remunerative price to the farmers. Since Kerala ensures quality products, Agriculture Department should think of branding our domestic products in National and International markets, he said.
Minister V.S.Sunil Kumar also addressed the gathering and assured better coordination among the Ministries to address the problems of farm sector. He said Rs. 198 crore would be released to paddy cultivators to clear the dues. He also said the welfare board for farmers will be constituted soon. He said many Krishi bhavans in Kerala has set up agricultural task forces and plant health clinics to help farmers.
Agriculture department aims bigger participation of farmers in future course of action and expects ten lakh farmers participation in the grama sabhas planned in coming June in all LSG wards. He also said that Vengeri whole sale agriculture market, now in a dilapidated stage, would be developed as a manufacturing hub for coconut based products. In 2016 July, Minister visited the place and detected gross misuse and largescale irregularities in the 10 hectare market set up with the financial aid of European Economic Community 14 years back. He announced that the first coconut park will soon start functioning at Perambra of Thrissur district.
By V R Ajith Kumar
Editor, Agriculture World