India’s AEZs now cover 40 agricultural products

Agri export zones (AEZs) in the country now cover about 40 different agricultural commodities spread across 20 states in the country.

All the 60 AEZs have been notified by Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) and have completed their span of five years, minister of state for commerce and industry D Purandeswari informed the Lok Sabha in a written reply.

The agri export zones are set up on the basis of particular produce / products that are grown largely in a contiguous area for the purpose of developing and sourcing the raw materials, their processing / packaging, leading to final exports.

Thus, the entire effort is centered on a cluster approach of identifying the potential products, the geographical region in which these are grown and adopting an end-to-end approach of integrating the entire process, right from the stage of production till it reaches the market.

The AEZs identified in North-east India are as follows –

Assam: Fresh & Processed Ginger at Kamrup, Nalbari, Barpeta, Darrang, Nagaon, Morigaon, Karbi Anglong and North Cachar districts.

Sikkim: flowers (orchids) and cherry pepper; ginger at Sikkim (north, east, south and west Sikkim).

Tripura: organic pineapple at Kumarghat, Manu, Melaghar, Matabari and Kakraban blocks

The AEZs are expected to converge the efforts made, hitherto, by various central and state government departments for increasing exports of agricultural commodities from India.

These agri zones take a comprehensive view of a particular produce / product located in a geographically contiguous area for the purpose of developing and sourcing raw materials, their processing/packaging, and leading to final exports.

The government had undertaken a peer evaluation of the existing AEZs in 2005 to assess their performance. On the basis of the recommendations of the peer group in 2005, it was decided not to consider notification of new AEZs unless there were strong compelling reasons to do so.

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India’s second rubber park comes up in Tripura

India’s second industrial rubber park has come up in Bodhungnagar in western Tripura to boost the country’s elastic polymer industry.

The park, a joint venture between the Tripura Industrial Development Corporation (TIDC) and the Rubber Board, is the second of its kind in the country after the rubber park in Irapuram, Kerala.

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar Friday inaugurated the park, created at a cost of Rs.23 crore at the Bodhungnagar industrial growth centre, 15 km north of Agartala.

Tripura is the second largest natural rubber producer in the country after Kerala.

At least 20 rubber-based industrial projects would be set up in the park in the next few years. “The rubber park was built on an area of about 58 acres of land in the Bodhungnagar industrial growth centre in western Tripura and over Rs.75 crore are expected to be invested in the park over a period of three years,” said TIDC Chairman Pabitra Kar.

“A big rubber product development and display centre and a rubber museum have been set up in the park, which would lead to significant direct employment generation for 1,000 to 1,500 people,” he said.

Tripura is the second largest rubber producer in the country after Kerala with 65,000 hectares of land so far brought under cultivation producing 30,000 tonnes of natural rubber annually.

“The state has a potential to increase the production of rubber to 60,000 tonnes per year after five years,” Kar added.

The products proposed to be manufactured in the rubber park include cycle and two-wheeler tyres and tubes, retreading of old tyres, auto components, flaps, chappals, sports goods, latex foam, coated fabrics, hot water bag, hose, mattresses and pillows, automotive rubber components and rubber threads.

Products from the park, funded by the union commerce ministry under the ASIDE (Assistance to States for Development of Export Infrastructure and Allied Activities) scheme, are expected to meet the needs of northeastern states and neighbouring countries.

“There are over 50,000 rubber and latex-based downstream products that have a huge domestic and international market potential and the park would provide the platform and impetus for the growth of the downstream rubber industry in the country,” said R.C.M. Reddy, chief executive officer of ILFS, an infrastructure and lease finance company.

Industry and Commerce minister Jitendra Chowdhury said Tripura earned Rs.550-Rs.600 crore per annum from the raw rubber and with value addition the income would easily cross Rs.1,500 crore in the next three years.

“Products valued at Rs.400 crore likely to be exported from the rubber park,” he said, adding that the park would be a “land to lab to market” catalyst.

A persistent push to develop large-scale rubber plantations as a livelihood alternative to slash-and-burn cultivation by tribals has resulted in a major economic upswing in the state. And the government’s Rubber Mission seeks to bring 85,074 more hectares under rubber cultivation for ensuring socio-economic and industrial growth.

“The non-traditional rubber plantation zone of northeast is the area where lies the potential for expansion of rubber plantation to avail higher level of production of natural rubber, which had been used as industrial raw materials for almost 50,000 goods,” said a rubber board official.

The Kottayam-based Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) has also identified 450,000 hectares for rubber cultivation in the northeast region.

Of the total 4.5 lakh hectares identified suitable for rubber plantation in different northeastern states, Assam alone has about 2 lakh hectares which could be gainfully put under cultivation followed by Tripura (one lakh hectares).

“Future expansion and growth of natural rubber in India lies in the northeast, which is agro-climatically most suitable for rubber cultivation,” said another rubber board official.

India has 600,000 hectares of rubber plantations producing about 750,000 tonnes of natural rubber annually. (IANS)

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North-East soon to become rubber hub of India

The North-East is becoming the rubber hub of India since the experts are of the opinion that the large-scale cultivation of the crop can help meet the shortfall in supply amid the surging demand.

The rubber is grown in the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, but the surge in demand for the crop has lead to the search for other regions where cultivation can be pursued. Rubber planting has not expanded to the target in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Maharashtra and Orissa, where the climatic conditions support their growth.

Mr KG Mohanan, Additional Rubber Production Commissioner of the Rubber Board, said, “We believe that now we have to look to the North-East to produce more natural rubber. Though the agro-climatic conditions prevailing in some parts of the region are moderately suitable for planting rubber, it has been proven through experimental plantation that under appropriate agro-management practices, the commodity can be grown as an economically viable crop.”

A search has been unveiled and it culminated in attempts by the board to grow rubber in Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. According to reports, the Soil Conservation Department of Assam has planted rubber in the state in 1950s and the first commercial planting has been done by Tripura’s Forest Department in 1963.

The Tripura government had established Tripura Forest Development Plantation Corporation Ltd (TFDPC) in 1970. In the past, govt has sanctioned a scheme for speeding up rubber development in North-East.

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Floriculture lifts Tripura village out of poverty

LAXMIBIL (TRIPURA), SEPT. 19: A poverty-stricken Tripura village has blossomed into an exporter of flowers after the villagers adopted floriculture with the assistance from Horticulture Department and Technology Mission.

Three years ago, Laxmibil village, in west Tripura district was like any other, wallowing in poverty and absence of gainful work till the the Horticulture Department and Technology Mission stepped in and motivated people to start floriculture. As it stands, the village now not only supplies flowers to the home market, but also exports them abroad.

The story began when an unemployed youth Swapan Paul cultivated flower plants in his field on the suggestion of the Horticulture Department officials. He was unemployed but now earns Rs 35,000 a month by selling flowers.

Soon other unemployed youth were inspired by Paul took up floriculture as a profession. Now their ranks have swelled to more than 250.

The favourable agro-climatic condition of the village has also helped script the success story.Villagers are now cultivating different kinds of flowers and also experimenting with exotic varieties like Anthodium and orchids to earn good money.


“In the beginning various government organisations came forward with technical assistance. Now the villagers are doing it with their own efforts,” an official of the Horticulture Department said.

Mr Paul said he had started with a financial assistance of Rs 3.5 lakh from the Technology Mission and constructed three high-tech greenhouses. “I started with cultivation of Anthodium, Gerbera and Carnation flowers and also took up orchid cultivation on a 2.5 bigha land and started getting return within one and a half years. Now I also cultivate Chandramallika, Rose, Gladiolus, Rajanigandha and Lilia,” he said.

His flowers are sold in Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore. “A Delhi-based company is now marketing a part of our production in return for 10 per cent commission which fetches a good amount,” Mr Paul said.

He took part in the international floral exhibition in Delhi and Gangtok in 2007 and 2008 respectively.

Mr Rabi Das, another cultivator of the village said, “There is no person in our village who cannot earn a decent living now.”

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