Plantation crops in India are considered to be the main segment of the horticulture crops. They are the mainstay of agrarian economies in many States and Union Territories (UTs) of the country. They play an important role in the agricultural and industrial development of the country as a whole. They contribute a significant amount to the national exchequer and country's exports by way of excise and export earnings. They also provide direct and indirect employment to large number of people in the country, and thus tries to supplement the poverty alleviation programmes, especially in rural sector.
Plantation crops constitute a large group of crops. The major plantation crops include coconut, arecanut, oil palm, cashew, tea, coffee and rubber; and the minor plantation crops include cocoa. India is the largest producer and consumer of cashew nuts. The total production of cashew is around 0.57 million tonnes from an area of 0.24 million hectares. India also occupies number one position in arecanut production.
Tea and coffee are the main and oldest industries in the country, which provide ample employment opportunities to the people at large and holds immense potential for export. India is one of the largest tea producer in the world. Coffee is the second largest traded commodity in the world and is an extremely important foreign exchange earner. The coffee industry of India is one of the largest producer of coffee in the world.
India is the third largest producer of coconut and leads 90 coconut-producing countries of the world. The area for coconut plantation in India has been majorly distributed over 18 States and 3 UTs, under different agro-climatic conditions. India is a premier coir manufacturing country in the world. Wide range of coconut products, edible and non-edible, are available for both domestic and export market. Tender coconut water concentrate is another product, apart from soft drinks, which is manufactured and marketed successfully.
But, in India, plantation crops have been continuously facing the problem of lack of investment and depressed yields, and are in great need of modernisation. Their total coverage is comparatively less and they are mostly confined to small holdings. Thus, the Government of India has identified some prominent crops as high-value crops of great economic importance. It is taking all possible steps and initiatives to commercialize the sector. Tea, coffee, rubber and coconut industries are providing greater business opportunities to the investors worldwide.