The way ahead for Kerala’s growth

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Another suggestion is to promote the MSME sector, which has been generating employment and contributing substantially to the state’s GDP.

KOCHI: Drawing a detailed picture of the state’s sagging economy, the Planning Board has listed concrete measures to turn drawbacks into opportunities and unveil a new strategy for strengthening Kerala’s economy. The state’s remarkable success in tackling the Covid pandemic has highlighted its achievements in social sectors, especially health. It appears that Kerala now has a really good chance of emerging as a destination for manufacturing and research in health, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. An immediate opportunity for Kerala is in the manufacture of a range of personal protective equipment (PPE), demand for which has spiked in Covid’s wake, the report said. Besides, experts say Kerala can use the goodwill created by successfully containing the pandemic to promote the state as a global healthcare destination.

Another suggestion is to promote the MSME sector, which has been generating employment and contributing substantially to the state’s GDP. The Commerce Mission may join hands with research institutions like Central Plantation Crops Research Institute, Central Food Technology Research Institute, Indian Institute of Spices Research and universities in Kerala to create a mechanism to offer technological and professional assistance to MSMEs on a continuous basis.

The mission may engage scientists or professors from these institutions on deputation to provide training to firms and entrepreneurs, the report said.Another suggestion is to cash in on the state’s resources and develop it as a food processing hub. Helping  farmers to turn farm produce into value added products will help increase their income. The report stresses the need to attain self-sufficiency in rice, vegetable, poultry and milk production.

The state should set up a labor bank and promote cultivation of paddy in fallow wetlands. According to the report, steps should be initiated to bring 25,000 hectares  under paddy cultivation over the next two years. The area under vegetable cultivation should be doubled to attain self sufficiency. Drastic changes to the agricultural marketing system so that farmers get better price for their products, with a legislation to streamline marketing of agricultural products are among the board’s recommendations. Also, an online marketing platform  to improve the reach of farmers has been mooted. The report suggests schemes to attract youth to agriculture and promote mechanization and modernization of farming techniques. The board has also recommended a one-year ban on rubber imports.

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