Prelims Level
Mains Level
Prelims Syllabus : Agriculture Mains Syllabus : Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints

In news:

  • The United Planters’ Association of Southern India (UPASI) has estimated the plantation crop loss in the recent floods, mainly in Kerala, parts of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, to be ₹5,543 crore with the highest loss in rubber at ₹1,662 crore followed by coffee at ₹1,360 crore, pepper at ₹1,200 crore and cardamom at ₹1,250 crore.
  • This is said to be one of the largest losses suffered by the sector in south India due to natural calamities in the last five to six decades.

Plantation crops:

  • The major plantation crops include coconut, arecanut, oil palm, cashew, tea, coffee and rubber; the minor plantation crops include cocoa

The Economic Importance of these Crops are:

  • They contribute to national economy by way of export earnings. These crops occupy less than 2 per cent of the total cultivated area (i.e. 3.82 per cent of total crop land) but gives about 12.72 per cent of the total export earnings of all commodities or 75 per cent of total earnings from the export of agricultural produces
  • India is the leading country in the total production of certain plantation crops in the world. For instance, our production meets the share of 47 per cent in tea and 66 per cent in each of cashew and arecanut,
  • Plantation industry provides direct as well as indirect employment lo many millions of people. For instance, tea industry offers direct employment to 10 lakhs and indirect employment to 10 lakh people, while-cashew processing factories alone provide employment to 3 lakhs people besides 2 lakhs farmers are employed in cashew cultivation.
  • Plantation industry supports many by-product industries and also many rural industries. For example, coconut husk is used to produce coir fiber annually to a tune of 2,19,600 tones in India.
  • These crops help to conserve the soil and ecosystem. Tea planted in hill slopes and cashew in barrel and waste lands protect the land from soil erosion during the rainy season or due to heavy winds

Revenue Insurance Scheme for plantation crops:

  • It was introduced by commerce ministry not agriculture ministry
  • RISPC was approved on September 16, 2016 and will be implemented on a pilot basis for two years covering tea, coffee, rubber, cardamom and tobacco in eight districts in West Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Sikkim and Tamil Nadu by the commodity boards.
  • It also covers protecting growers of plantation crops from the twin risks of yield loss due to adverse weather parameters, pest attacks, drought, dry spells, flood, inundation, storm, hailstorm, cyclone, natural fire, lightning, hailstorm and income loss caused by fall in international/domestic prices

Problems of this sector:

  • The planation industry in India is mainly suffering from the problem of rising production costs and labor costs along with low price realization. Because of the higher production costs in India and overproduction by other countries like Kenya, the Indian industry is unable to compete with the world producers.
  • Frequent man animal conflicts in the estates are a rising concern. Diseases and pests are creating major problem in sustaining the profitability of the industry
  • Small holdings of the rubber, cardamom, spice etc. are a major hurdle in adopting modern technology in large scale.
  • Availability of all-weather connectivity from farm gate to market is not available in monsoon times due to frequent landslides
  • Difficulties of clearing and maintenance, dense vegetative cover is difficult to clear to make way for plantations and a sound communication network. It is even more expensive to prevent forest shrubs and trees encroaching on such clearings.
  • Large sums of money are needed annually for the repair of estate roads and railways.
  • Under tropical conditions of heavy rainfall, mineral nutrients in the soil are carried downwards with the rain water as it sinks into the ground.
  • This leaching process proceeds very rapidly and magnesium, potassium and calcium are removed. MSP for coffee, tea, etc. is not available.

Conclusion:

  • The plantation crop sector is a major determinant of growth of the agricultural sector in the country.
  • While the challenges faced by this sector are numerous, these are, however, not insurmountable.
  • A well-reasoned and cohesive application of cutting-edge research, institutional support for development and creative policy initiatives can ensure a vibrant plantation crop sector in the country.
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