FOR FUTURE SUSTAINABILITY
Centre-state cooperation, crop diversification and empowerment of workers hold the key
Any crisis in Kerala’s plantation sector affects the prospects of millions of growers, workers, manufacturers, consumers and the economy of the state and the country. Hence a complete revamping, restructuring and empowerment of the state’s farm sector is needed to enable its plantations to produce at a competitive cost and in an economically viable and environmentally sustainable manner. Experts say crying hoarse at the time of a price crash and rejoicing during booms will do no good. It’s time the government introduced comprehensive policies and time-bound programmes for short-term, mid-term and longterm actions to help growers tide over uncertainties of the market.
Price stabilisation measures like fixing maximum and minimum prices, creating buffer stocks ,fiscal and export incentives and procurement will not be as effective as they were in the pre-trade liberalisation period, when the domestic market was protected from global competitions, point out Tharian George. “This was evident in 1997 during the first price crash of rubber following the economic reforms. The Centre had tried these measures to stabilise falling rubber prices. It had restricted rubber imports. But none of the measures served its purpose, ”says George. The government once again tried these measures during the recent price slump in the rubber sector , but they failed.
Now, for the first time, the Centre plans to address the crisis that ails rubber. The Union commerce ministry appointed an expert committee