Plantation: A large contiguous area in which a forest crop raised either by direct sowing or transplanting.
Plantation crop: In original sense the term plantation refers to a forest crop raised artificially either by direct sowing or planting. In horticulture sense the term plantation crop refers to a woody perennial crop grown on a large contiguous area, managed by an individual or a company, the produce of which is consumed only after processing.
Requirements of a crop to be categorized under plantation crop:
1. It should be a woody perennial (palm, tree, shrub or vine).
2. It should be grown on a large contiguous area (estate or plantation)
3. It should be managed by an individual or company.
4. The produce is suitable for consumption only after processing.
Estate or plantation: The term estate or plantation refers to a large scale agriculture unit, usually of a single crop or a large contiguous area usually under a single crop managed by individual or company. Plantation crops are cultivated on an extensive scale. Produce has to be processed before they are put to use. They are high value commercial crops. All are perennials. Areca nut, Cacao, cashew nut, coconut, coffee, oil palm, betel vine, rubber and tea are some of the plantation crops.
- They are export oriented. Ex: cashew nut, betel vine, tea comprise of 75% of total export earnings from the export of all agricultural produce.
- They provide gainful employment: Cashew cultivation employs 2 lakh people; processing industry employs 3 lakh people. Areca nut crop employs 6 million people. Coconut crop employs 10 million people. They occupy only 2% of total cultivated area, but generate 36,000 million rupees per annum.
- They support many ancillary industries.
- They conserve soil and eco system.
- Tea and coffee are cultivated over hill slopes; cashew nut is cultivated on waste lands. They protect soil from erosion losses.
Geographical distribution of plantation crops:
Almost all plantation crops are restricted geographical distribution to the tropics. Certain plantation crops are sun loving (coconut, cashew nut, rubber, oil palm, areca nut), others are shade loving (cocoa, tea, coffee, betel vine). In general coconut and cashew nut are cultivated in coastal belt. The sun loving plantation crops should always be raised under mono culture as sole crop, while the shade loving plantation crops (cocoa, coffee) may be raised as inter crop in the inter spaces of grown up sun loving plantation crops (coconut, oil palm and areca nut) or grown along with shade or nurse trees (silver oak) to have either shade (coffee, tea) or support (betel vine) or both (betel vine)
Importance and Area of Plantation Crops
Importance of Plantation Crops:
The term Plantation crops refers to those crops which are cultivated on an extensive scale in a large contiguous area, owned and managed by an Individual or a company. The crops include tea, coffee, rubber, cocoa, coconut, arecanut, oil palm, palmyrah, cashew, cinchona etc. These plantation crops are high value commercial crops of greater economic importance and play a vital role in our Indian economy.
The main draw back with this sector: of crops in India is that major portion of the area is of small holdings (except Tea) which hinders the adoption of intensive cultivation. In the case of coffee 97.13 per cent of the growers have holdings below ten hectares and in Rubber, 82 per cent of the total area is of small hojdings having an average size of 0.5 ha.
The Economic Importance of these Crops are:
1. They contribute to national economy by way of export earnings. These crops occupy less than 2 per cent of the total cultivated area (i.e. 3.82 per cent of total crop land) but they generate an income of around Rs. 16,000 million or about 12.72 per cent of the total export earnings of ail commodities or 75 per cent of total earnings from the export of agricultural produces.
2. India is the leading country in the total production of certain plantation crops in the world. For instance, our production meets the share of 47 per cent in tea and 66 per cent in each of cashew and arecanut,
3. Plantation industry provides direct as well as indirect employment lo many millions of people. For instance, tea industry offers direct employment to 10 lakhs and indirect employment to 10 lakh people, while-cashew processing factories alone provide employment to 3 lakhs people besides 2 lakhs farmers are employed in cashew cultivation.
4. Plantation industry supports many by-product industries and also many rural industries. For example, coconut husk is used to produce coir fiber annually to a tune of 2,19,600 tones in India.
5. These crops help to conserve the soil and ecosystem. Tea planted in hill slopes and cashew in barrel and waste lands protect the land from soil erosion during the rainy season or due to heavy winds.
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