Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 14 IANS | 4 months ago

The Centre for Development Studies (CDS), at the instance of union ministry of commerce, convened here a meeting of stakeholders last week to discuss inputs for the Centre for formulation of a new rubber policy, an academic said.

One of the important suggestions that came up at the meeting was for setting up of a 'Plantation University'.

Speaking to IANS, K.J. Joseph, coordinator of the National Research Programme on Plantation Development (NRPPD) and a senior professor at the CDS said this was the first expert committee meeting and the inputs received at the meeting would help formulate a new rubber policy that is expected to come out in November.

" There has been a call for setting up a National Rubber University. Based on the research undertaken by the NRPPD, we are inclined to make the case for a 'Plantation University' by bringing together all the research institutes under different commodity boards because there is significant complementarity between the research issues confronted by these crops," he said.

Alternatively, there could be a Western Ghat University where in plantation sector could be an area of study along with wild life, forestry, natural resource management, wood science, mining and quarrying and others, said Joseph.

He said, "Kerala could be the headquarters of this proposed University because natural rubber accounts for 45 per cent of the agricultural domestic product in the state and involves over one million growers and half a million workers. Besides rubber plantation is not only a key sector in regional economies like Kerala but also the only source of livelihood for nearly 1.5 million families".

"Natural rubber is emerging as an important crop in states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Tripura, Assam, Meghalaya and other states. Also since there are quite a few other crops like cardamom, pepper, and coconut, this proposed University can have separate departments for each crop. There could be even centres of this plantation university in other states, so as to go forward with research activities," said Joseph.

Offering NRPPD all his support, Kerala Finance Minister K.M. Mani pointed out that the relevance of any policy and its outcome would depend on the extent to which the policy takes care of the interests of different stakeholders.

"I hope that these concerns are addressed in the new policy. It is hoped that the Central Government, sooner than later, will initiate steps to formulate policies for other plantation crops as well," said Mani.

(Posted on 14-08-2014)

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