Kerala land laws to be amended to allow intercropping in plantations

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. File   | Photo Credit: S. MAHINSHA

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on June 21 said the government would seek the mandate of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) to modify specific laws that govern the plantation sector to allow the management to intercrop food crops with cash crops such as tea, coffee, cardamom and rubber.

Some provisions of the Kerala Land Reforms Act, Kerala Grants and Leases (Modification of Rights) Act and Kerala Land Utilisation Order might come up for legislative review if the LDF permitted.

In his weekly televised interaction with the members of the public, Mr. Vijayan said the question of modifying the laws while preserving their animating principles was a policy decision within the purview of the LDF. The ruling coalition would take a final decision in the matter after due deliberation.

Kerala, as a predominantly consumer State, had to break its dependency on food imports from neighbouring States. It had to guard against possible food protectionism by largescale producers by opening up plantations for farming edibles.

The proposed modification would also permit plantations to diversify into dairy and poultry farming. It would spur investment in precision farming characterised by high yield food crops, reduced use of toxic pesticides, chemical fertilisers and water.

B. Ajith, general secretary of the Association of Planters, who participated in the interaction with Mr. Vijayan, said plantations encompassed 8 lakh hectares in Kerala. An amendment of the law would free up an estimated 2 lakh hectares for inter-cropping.

23 agro-climatic sectors

The Kerala Agriculture University had zoned Kerala into 23 agro-climatic sectors. It had suggested that oranges, apples, avocados, grapefruit and winter vegetables as ideal intercrop for high altitude tea plantations in regions such as Munnar.

In rubber growing regions, the KAU had suggested the cultivation of rambutan, mangosteen and other tropical fruits in small plots interspersed among the trees.

It had also suggested jack fruit as shade trees in tea, coffee and cardamom plantations. The participants also mooted rejuvenation of cashew plantations and use of cashew mango to produce ethanol. They also asked the government to permit plantings of soft and hardwood trees on the fringes of the estates.

The Chief Minister also promised the institutionalising of a cold chain process to store, preserve and transport vegetables, fruits, meat, milk, and poultry from farm to the table. He mooted labour banks to make up for the scarcity of farmworkers.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2021 11:57:36 PM |

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