Highlight the reasons for high concentration of plantation in south India. Give an account of significance and challenges that the plantation sector of south India is confronted with.

Plantation refers to agricultural practices of growing single crops mostly of commercial importance like sugarcane, coffee, tea, palm, bananas, etc.

Reasons for high concentration in South India:

  • Weather – The sub-tropical climate of south Indian states provides suitable conditions for plantation crops.
  • Hill slopes – Both high-altitude hills and also hill slopes prevent rainwater to stagnate. Thus providing conditions for coffee and tea cultivation.
  • Rainfall – Adequate orographic rain on western ghats, and winter rainfall on the Tamilnadu coast.
  • Long growing season available for perennial growth.
  • Cooperative societies play an active role in providing forward and backward linkage to the market.
  • Government policies support the plantation sector in south Indian states, eg. Oil, palm, coconut, banana, sugarcane
  • Proximity to ports makes it cheaper and easier to transport.

Significance of plantation sector in South India:

  • South Indian states contribute approximately 60% to the total share of the plantation sector in India.
  • Gives employment to around 13 lakh small and marginal farmers and an equal number of laborers.
  • States like Karnataka hold near-monopoly in coffee production of exquisite variety, like Arabica coffee, which forms part of exports from India.
  • Cardamom and rubber plantation are also concentrated in south Indian states like Kerala and Tamilnadu.

Challenges faced by the plantation sector:

  • Climate hazards – mainly tropical cyclones and drought conditions.
  • Un-remunerative prices – natural rubber has been severely affected and farmers are abandoning rubber plantations.
  • Diseases and infections – cardamom is highly susceptible to fungal damage and high rainfall conditions happening due to climate change.
  • Poor infrastructure, obsolete technology, and inadequate investment in R&D.

The plantation sector in India has huge potential in generating export income, employment, and input for the food processing industry in India. Therefore, investment in Food Processing parks, technology, and R&D is the need of the hour.

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