Kerala govt mulls bringing fruit cultivation under plantation sector to boost investment

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Kochi, Aug 22 (PTI): Kerala Industries Minister P Rajeeve on Tuesday said the government was considering bringing fruit cultivation under the plantation sector so as to boost investment and innovation as envisioned in the state’s 2023 industrial policy.

It would also enable food-processing units to source material for value-addition from the state, he said.

The minister was speaking after inaugurating the Regional Industry Meet for food-processing units, organized here by the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC).

The government will soon take a call on this proposal as fruit cultivation is a sustainable business model with growth potential and can accelerate the development of the food-processing sector that is identified as one of the promising domains in the policy.

The Industrial Policy, approved in March, had enlisted value addition provisions in plantation as one of the priority areas for bringing in investment to the State, Rajeeve pointed out.

The industry meet was held in the run-up to the November 3-5 World Food India at Delhi. Kerala is a partner-state of the three-day summit being organized by the Union Ministry of Food Processing.

“The state’s first spice-processing park will be inaugurated next month at Thodupuzha (Idukki district), while the foundation stone will be laid for the pioneering carbon-neutral park in Wayanad in October,” Rajeeve said at the event.

Noting that the state government was implementing an array of projects to promote food-processing, the Minister said the state saw 1,39,000 new units being registered under the sector in the past year.

“Innovation is the key to the growth of food-processing.” Accelerating the state’s economic development will be private industrial parks and campus industrial parks, he said.

Private industrial parks coming up in at least 10 acres of land are eligible for a grant of up to Rs three crore, he said explaining that so far, eight such projects have received official clearance, while six more are under consideration.

Apart from these, authorities have received 25 applications online, Rajeeve said.

Further, Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (KINFRA) is setting up 10 small industrial parks. These facilities that meet the mandatory requirement of ten acres will be eligible for Rs 10-crore grant.

Emphasising the need to leverage new technologies, the Minister said applying nanotechnology in genomics can usher in wonder. He also recalled that the state had opened the country’s first genome data centre five months ago in a bid to help industry use state-of-the-art data services.

Principal Secretary (Industries and Health) A P M Mohammad Haneesh, in his presidential address, said the state should focus on niche products while promoting innovation and technology.

“We must find stronger markets in Africa, Eastern Europe and the Americas, for which our value addition to food should be world-class,” he noted, stressing the need to penetrate markets beyond the Persian Gulf.

KSIDC Managing Director S. Harikishore, in his power-point presentation, said Kerala was planning at least 10 mini food parks (through KINFRA) with each of them owning 10 acres of land, thus earning a support of up to Rs 10 crore each for infrastructure development.

Minhaj Alam, Additional Secretary, Union Ministry of Food Processing, in his speech highlighted the salient features of the World Food India being organized in Delhi. PTI LGK ROH

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