Coonoor (Tamil Nadu): Commodity planters in south India on Friday sought government help for greater mechanisation to reduce production costs and tackle an acute labour shortage. "The government should allocate substantial funds for mechanisation in the sector to overcome labour shortage and reduce cost of production," United Planters' Association of South India (Upasi) president D. Hegde said at a conference here.
Admitting that more research was required to develop indigenous technology for plantation crops, Hegde said the government should restore the concessional duty on import of all machinery and equipment used by 1.6 million planters and growers across the country. "The government should provide concessional duties till domestic suppliers develop suitable machinery," Hegde said in his presidential address at the 119th annual conference of Upasi.
The federal government last year restricted the concessional duty on the import of specified machinery used only in coffee plantations. The plantation sector comprises coffee, tea, rubber and spices (especially cardamom and pepper), and provides employment to around 1.4 million people in the three southern states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
However, socio-economic factors are forcing labourers to migrate to greener pastures, and work on the plantation is no longer so attractive for the younger generation. "Labour shortage is acute, especially during plucking season in coffee plantations and peak crop period (May-June and Oct-Nov) in tea plantations. In spite of substantial increase in wages with social benefits, we are unable to attract the required workforce, so we are forced to
04:51 PM, Sep 28, 2012