Plantation sector demands higher allocation and readjustment of loans

Under the impact of changing weather conditions and volatile price trend, the Southern plantation sector requested a higher allocation of funds for commodity commissions in the 2021-22 budget to settle dues. producers.

In addition, the labor-intensive sector also sought a financial plan for restructuring loans for the coffee sector and urged the government to declare a minimum support price for plantation products, among others. , in the budget.

Prashant Bhansali, president of the United Planters Association of South India (Upasi), said the reduction in budget allocation in recent years has affected the plantation sector as councils were unable to pay contributions to producers under various development programs.

“We have asked the government to increase the budget allocation for commodity commissions for carrying out development activities in addition to a one-time grant to offset the amount owed to the plantation sector,” he said. he declares. Estimated dues for the tea sector are around ₹ 75 crore.

Upasi also called for increased funding for research and development and extension activities in the sector, as the flow of funds for R&D had decreased due to the decline in council spending, in addition to seeking financial support for mitigate the effects of climate change. He also suggested that the Orthodox production subsidy program be included within the scope of section 10 (30) of the Income Tax Act 1961 so that the Orthodox Tea Board subsidy would not be. not included in total income. In addition, Upasi also urged the government to set the MSP for plantation products according to the recommendations of the MS Swaminathan committee at 50% above the cost of production to ensure the safety of the long-term investment decision in guaranteeing remunerative prices for producers.

Coffee sector

For the coffee sector, where producers have faced a severe financial crisis due to the decline in production over the past five years, mainly due to adverse weather conditions and unpaid prices, Upasi called for a restructuring of ready. According to the State Level Bankers Committees (SLBCs) of the Southern States, 6,840 crore is owed by coffee growers as of December 31, 2019, with accrued interest of 820 crore.

“We urge that all outstanding and past due loans, as well as accrued interest, can be restructured into a single term loan over a nine-year period with a two-year moratorium,” said Jeffry Rebello, chairman of the Upasi Coffee Committee.

In addition to restructuring all loans, the interest rate on all harvest and development loans should be reduced to 3 percent per year, said S Appadurai, president of the Karnataka Planters Association (KPA ).

KPA also urged the FM to remove rule 7B (1) from the income tax rules so that a large number of small producers can engage in coffee drying and sell on the open market, a move that could help them get better prices.

“In addition, we are also seeking exemption or reduction of customs duties on import of inputs such as agricultural and planting machinery / equipment, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, effluent treatment chemicals. and plant material, ”he said.

Elizabeth J. Harris