Kerala Budget 2024: Minimum support price for rubber hiked by ₹10, agri sector gets ₹1,698 crore

Announcing more support to the higher education sector, the minister also earmarked ₹250 crore for the Digital University.

BySouth First Desk

Published Feb 05, 2024 | 12:11 PMUpdatedFeb 05, 2024 | 12:11 PM

Kerala Finance Minister KN Balagopal

Presenting his fourth Budget, Kerala Finance Minister KN Balagopal on Monday, 5 February, announced an increase of ₹10 in the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for rubber to ₹180 from ₹170.

It was earlier expected that the government would hike rubber’s MSP by at least ₹20.

Amidst increasing demand by rubber farmers for hiking its support price, Balagopal announced the increase of ₹10.

“The minimum support price for rubber is increased to ₹180 from ₹170,” he said.

The MSP of rubber has been a contentious issue in Kerala politics with the Archbishop of Tellicherry (Thalassery) Mar Joseph Pamplany, even assuring the BJP an MP from the state in 2024, if the Union government increased the MSP of natural rubber to ₹300.

“Being the party in power at the Centre, the BJP can decide the policy. The rubber-growing families are getting only ₹120 per kg for the product,” the archbishop said while addressing a farmers’ meeting at Alakode in the Kannur district on 18 March last.

Second only to coconut

According to official estimates, Kerala has over 18 lakh rubber-cultivating families and over 14.5 lakh families — mostly Catholics — are dependent on rubber plantations.

The Economic Review-2023 said rubber occupied a gross cropped area of 21.8 percent in the state, second only to coconut, which covered 30.2 percent of the area.

It also said the production of rubber increased 7.69 percent to 5.99 lakh tonnes during the financial year 2022-23. Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber is 71.4 percent.

Also Read: Will Kerala’s much-hyped rubber politics take the Christian community closer to BJP?

Poverty eradication

The state Budget for the financial year 2024-25 allocated ₹1,698.30 crore for the struggling agriculture sector.

Balagopal also set aside ₹50 crore for extreme poverty eradication and announced ₹134.42 crore for the cooperative sector.

The finance minister said though the state was facing an economic crunch with the Union government allegedly imposing financial restrictions, the LDF government would not make any compromise on the development front.

Indicating that the state government would go ahead with its development plans, the finance minister said investments worth ₹3 lakh crore would be brought to the southern state in the next three years.

He said ₹1,698 crore would be set aside for the traditional agricultural sector and investments worth ₹5,000 crore would be attracted to the tourism sector.

“The tourism sector is growing. Allocating ₹351 crore for it in fiscal 2024-25,” he said.

Announcing more support to the higher education sector, the minister earmarked ₹250 crore for the Digital University. Students meritoriously passing from the university would be eligible to pursue PhDs at Oxford University, he said.

Balagopal said that, along with the straightening of lines and doubling of tracks, it was necessary to have a high-speed rail system for the future development of the state.

“The state will continue with its efforts to realise the K-Rail project. Discussions with the Union government in this regard are going on,” he added, hinting that the Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod SilverLine project was still on.

The minister also blamed the Union government’s economic policies and alleged neglect of Kerala for the southern state’s financial problems.

Also Read: Union Budget 2024: Kerala’s interests have been ignored, says CM Vijayan

(With PTI inputs)