Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, Apr 20, 2002
Agri-Biz & Commodities
Exports & Imports
Kerala unlikely to get agri export zone
KOCHI, April 19
KERALA'S chances of getting an Agri Export Zone appear to be remote because of the conditions laid down for setting it up.
Though there were demands from certain quarters that the State should also be considered for setting up of an Agri Export Zone, experts have come out with different opinions.
While some have pointed out the potential for natural rubber, others say that such zones could be set up for spices such as pepper, ginger, cardamom, turmeric and vanilla.
The Centre had announced the setting up of 20 Agri Export Zones and 12 States had been identified, in which Kerala was not included, Mr M.S.A. Kumar, President, All India Spices Exporters Forum, told Business Line.
"There should be a contiguous area for a single crop with good export potential,'' he said.
As far as Kerala was concerned, except for rubber no other crop is grown in a vast area.
But then, the export potential of natural rubber is much less, which factor alone would make it uneconomical to have an Agri Export Zone exclusively for natural rubber.
"Another area is coconut; but here too, it is not grown in an organised manner as a plantation. However, the possibilities of setting up such a zone for the spices could be explored."
Meanwhile, a senior Spices Board official said that the Board would be submitting a proposal to the State Government on the potential of setting up an Agri Export Zone in the State covering pepper, cardamom, ginger and vanilla.
"Value-addition could be done to these items, which are currently grown in the State under normal cultivating practices, by resorting to organic farming. These products could also be processed in the zone for export."
At the same time, the area under the crop and the total production of the produce every year might be considered before setting up such a zone, he added.
Kerala has around 14,000 hectares under ginger with a production of about 52,000 tonnes.
The area under pepper is around 1.73 lakh hectares with a production of about 65,000 tonnes, while that of cardamom (small) is 40,867 hectares (yielding area 30,668 hectares) with an estimated production of 9,000 tonnes.
In the case of turmeric, only around 9,000 tonnes are produced from an area of less than 4,000 hectares.
Besides, a good chunk of the production in of all these crops is absorbed by the huge domestic market.
The Board, the official said, has already sent a proposal to the Andhra Pradesh Government for setting up an Agri Export Zone near Vijayawada for chilly cultivation.
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