State to market the fruit and its value-added products as signature farm export
Kerala on Wednesday elevated jackfruit as the State’s official fruit.
Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunil Kumar announced the ennoblement of the ubiquitous fruit in the Assembly during a discussion on demand for grants in the Budget for farming.
He said Kerala produced 30 to 60 crore jackfruits annually. Their produce was entirely organic and pesticide-free.
Kerala hoped to market jackfruit and its value-added products as its signature agricultural export. The State also would market its banana and pineapple crop in foreign markets.
It would bridge the yawning income gap between farmers and big business that convert their harvest into value-added products by starting agro-parks where growers would be the only stakeholders.
Coconut shows a drop
The Minister said coconut production in Kerala was on the decline. Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka had overtaken Kerala in coconut production. However, Kerala remained the largest coconut producer because of the vast area under cultivation.
The government planned to extend coconut cultivation from the current 8 lakh hectares to 9.5 lakh hectares. It would introduce more high-yielding varieties to boost coconut harvests.
The Minister said the Centre’s neoliberal policies had halved the price of cash crops and spices over the years. Central boards controlled the market price of spices and rubber by allowing other countries to dump their harvest in the country. The State has represented the case of its rubber and spice farmers at the Centre.
The government had launched an initiative to restore the soil health of the State by encouraging the use of bio-pesticides over chemical pesticides.