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| Last Updated:: 03/01/2014



        Kerala, the State with network of azure backwaters, rivers and streams, boasts of an agrarian economy. The abundance of water due to the 34 lakes and other small streamlets, innumerable backwaters and water bodies and 44 rain-fed rivers flowing over the terrain of the state and also the adequate annual rainfall of 3000mm received by this state probably facilitates agriculture to a great extent and hence the economy of the state is dominated by agriculture. The most essential or the staple crop is the rice or paddy

          About 600 varieties of rice are grown in the sprawling paddy fields of Kerala. In fact the Kuttanad region of the district of Kerala is known as the 'rice bowl of the state' and enjoys a significant status in the production of rice

          Next to rice is Tapioca and is cultivated mainly in the drier regions. Tapioca is a major food of the Keralites. Besides production of the main crop, Kerala is also a major producer of spices that form the cash crops of the state. Kerala produces 96% of the country's national output of pepper. The important spices are cardamom, cinnamon, clove, turmeric, nutmeg and vanilla.

       Other cash crops that constitute the agricultural sector include tea , coffee  cashew, pulses ,areca nut, ginger and coconut. In fact coconut provides the principal source of income in Kerala- from coir industry to coconut shell artifacts. Cashew is also an essential cash crop. Kerala also accounts for 91% of natural rubber production of the country. Kottayam district has extensive areas producing and processing rubber. Apart from rubber, other plantation crop likes plantains or bananas are also grown in plenty.

The provisional estimate of agricultural income of the state recorded a negative growth of 1.79% percent during 2009-10. The trend in agricultural income in Kerala during the last seven years is shown below. The quick estimate for 2010-11 also indicated a decline of 0.78 percent in growth over 2009-10. The share of agriculture and allied sectors in GSDP indicated a continuous decline in the state. The share was 17.48% during 2004-05 and declined to 10.59% in 2010-11.


Trends in Agricultural Income in Kerala 

                 Real GDP growth at factor cost increased to 8.5 percent in 2010-11 from 8.0 percent in 2009-10 in the country. After two consecutive years of subdued performance, agriculture turned into a significant drives of growth in 2010-11. The simultaneous occurrence of a normal and well distributed South West monsoon and excess NE monsoon, the first occasion in the last one decade enabled both kharif and rabi sowing to be above normal and consequently there was record food grain production in 2010-11.

Trend in Area, Production and Productivity of Crops: Food grain production in country has reached a record value of 244.8 million tons in 2010-11. Production of rice alone was to the tune of 96.0 million tons in 2010-11.The estimated production of rice for the country is 102.8 million tons in 2011-12.Data regarding the area, production and productivity of important crops grown in Kerala are shown below. Out of a gross cropped area of 26.69 lakh ha. in 2009-10, food crops comprising rice, pulses and tapioca occupy only 11.74 percent. But in 2010-11, it reduced to 8.13%. Kerala state which had a low base in food production is facing serious challenges in retaining even this meager area. Kerala agricultural economy is undergoing structural transformation from the mid seventies by switching over a large proportion of its traditional crop area which was devoted to subsistence crops like rice and tapioca to more remunerative crops like banana and other plantations.

                The area under rice has been declining consistently over the last several years. After a long period of continuous decline, area under paddy increased from 2.29 lakh ha in 2007-08 to 2.34 lakh ha in 2008-09 and slightly declined by 252 ha only in 2009-10. But a sharp fall of area by 20828 ha was marked during 2010-11. In the case of tapioca, the area declined from 0.75 lakh ha in 2009-10 to 0.72 lakh ha. in 2010-11. Area under cashew nut was 0.49 lakh ha in 2009-10. But it declined to 0.44 lakh ha during 2010-11.

                In the case of coconut, area was at its peak during 2000-01. During the year 2010-11, the area declined by 8145 ha. Major commercial crops which had recorded reduction of area during 2010-11 are coconut (8145 ha), cardamom (351 ha), turmeric (47 ha), cashew nut (5124 ha) and tapioca (2572 ha). The major crops with considerable gain in area include pepper (693 ha), ginger (680 ha),banana (7396 ha), arecanut (646 ha), other plantains (1327 ha), coffee (135 ha), tea (120 ha) and rubber (8822 ha). The crops which have failed to sustain the production level from 2009-10 are cashew,tapioca and coconut. In 2010-11 some of the crops indicated increase in production over 2009-10. These crops are pepper (16770 MT), ginger (4594 MT), turmeric (150 MT), cardamom (135 MT), banana (77425 MT) and other plantains (15226 MT). The crops which have marked decline in the production level during 2010-11 are rice (75598 MT), pulses (482 MT), arecanut (16854 MT), cashew nut (1066MT), tapioca (165303 MT), coconut (388 million nuts) and tea (703 MT). 



Rice: In order to increase food production in the state, a major food security project was launched in 2008-09 covering rice, milk and egg. As part of the project, regional subprojects were launched with additional incentives, interest free loans, project based support for fallow land cultivation and a package of support measures. The procurement price was also enhanced to Rs.13 per kg and further to Rs.15 per kg. A modernization programme for lift irrigation was also initiated as part of the food security project and Malabar Package. A rehabilitation project on ponds was also initiated recently, as part of state food security project. From 2008-09 to 2009-10, area under paddy remain constant as 2.34 lakh ha.During 2010-11, the area under rice declined to 2.13 lakh ha and the production of rice also declined to 5.22 lakh MT from 5.98 lakh MT in 2009-10. 


                    The average annual decline in area under rice during the Eighth Five Year Plan was around 22000 ha, whereas it has come down to an average of 13000 ha. during the Ninth Plan period. The average annual reduction in area during Tenth Plan was 9398 ha. During 2007- 08, decline in area was to the tune of 34591 ha. from 2.64 lakh ha. in 2006-07 to 2.29 lakh ha and rice production declined from 6.42 lakh MT to 5.28 lakh MT, and then increased to 5.90 lakh MT in 2008-09, indicating a 11.74 percent increase over the previous year. The area under rice increased to 2.34 lakh ha in 2008-09. During 2009-10, there was a slight reduction in area by 252 ha only over 2008-09, while production increased by 8098 MT. The deviation in area and production of rice in the major districts of Kerala during 2009-10 over 2008-09 (%) is shown in Figure 1. The average productivity which was stagnant at around 2.2 MT/ha for four years till 2005-06 has improved to 2.4 t/ha in 2006-07 and slightly declined to 2.31 t in 2007-08 and further improved to 2.56 t in 2009-10. Increase in area under paddy has been recorded in Kottayam (4523 ha), Palakkad (4332ha) and Wayanad (249 ha) while the corresponding increase in production are 7258 mT, 26087 mT and 1782 mT respectively during 2009-10. Rice productivity at current level is sub optimal. Instead of providing area based subsidies, suitably designed incentive system is essential to promote productivity by exploiting the potential of agro ecological zones. 

Figure1: Deviation in area and production of rice in the major districts of Kerala during 2009-10 over 2008-09 (%) 


                     The area and production of paddy in the state since the last 50 years is given in Figure 2. Though there were notable area enhancement till the beginning of 1980’s the area is under constant decline since then. A slight area enhancement was noticed during 2008-09 compared to 2007-08 wherein the lowest area under rice was recorded since past 50 years. A slight reduction in area is recorded in 2009-10. The maximum area under rice of 8.81 lakh ha was in 1974-75 with a production of 13.34 lakh tonnes. In the production scenario, early periods indicated production enhancement. However production showed declining trends since 1983 and the lowest production was recorded during 2007-08. The year 2008-09 and 2009-10 present a solace by showing a slight production enhancement of rice in the state.

Figure 2: Area and production of paddy in Kerala (1960-61 to 2009-10)



             The production in 2010-11 is expected to increase further. Additional support was also provided for upland rice cultivation in potential areas for the first time in 2009-10. A special scheme as part of food security project for 36 crores was also launched in 2009-10 and consolidated in 2010-11 for the development of rice in the state. The conversion of paddy lands for other purposes was also stopped from 2009-10 as a result of the Kerala Paddy Land – Wet Land Conservation Act, 2008 passed by the state.  A State level project has to be prepared for the promotion of rice production by linking the schemes of Department of Agriculture, local governments and Kudumbashree. Padasekharam based action plans have to be prepared linking with credit, input support, water management, insurance, procurement and supplementary income sources. Panchayat wise targets could be fixed in potential areas for convergence, with the plan of the local governments. The project should also cover total crop insurance and total procurement. Development of local water resources and lift irrigation schemes also could be integrated in the project. Separate targets could be fixed for different potential areas like kole lands, Kuttanad, Palakkad etc. A package also could be considered for promoting upland rice including development of suitable rice varieties.


               During 2011-12, the area under rice declined by 5027 ha, but the production has increased by 0.5 lakh MT. The production is increased due to increase in productivity. The productivity increased to the tune of 11.5 percent. The upland rice development was implemented in 6539.06 ha and fallow land cultivation in another 731.7 ha. Reorganization of rice development scheme with focus on potential areas covering regional targets and technology package is essential with effective procurement operation. The national target for the food grain production has been fixed at 245.00 million tonnes for 2011-12. The production of food grains during the period is estimated at 259.3 million tonnes compared to 244.8 million tonnes in 2010-11. Rice production in the country is estimated at 92.8 million tonnes. Details are given below (pdf –Rice pan 1 &2)  and th percentage change in Area and Production of Rice in Major Districts of Kerala during 2011-12 over 2010-11 is shown below.



Coconut:  Coconut based farming is the main stay of farmers of the State with a coverage of 8.2 lakh ha which occupies 40.2 per cent of the net cropped area. During 2010-11, area and production of coconut in the State were declined by 1.2 percent and 6.7 percent respectively. In 2011-12, the situation has improved with 6.6 percent expansion of area and 12.4 percent upsurge in production over the previous year. The productivity levels of coconut in Kerala also improved (5.5%) significantly, but is still lower than in other southern states.  The area, production and productivity of coconut in major states of India (2011-12) are given below.


Pepper:  According to International Pepper Community (IPC) world pepper production in 2010 has declined by 0.71 percent to 316380 mT. For 2011, IPC has projected a lower production level of 309952mT. The productivity of pepper achieved its peak level of 376 kg. per ha during 1998-99. The productivity of pepper recorded during 2009-10 was only 221 kg, per ha. The production declined from 41952 MT during 2007-08 to 40641 MT in 2008-09 and 37899 MT in 2009-10. Pepper produced in Kerala fetches a premium price in international market in view of its intrinsic quality. The revival of pepper cultivation in the state has to be given priority considering the declining trend in production, disease incidence as well as the damages caused to the Erythrina Standards. A major pepper rehabilitation package has been initiated in Wayanad. Spices Board also started supporting pepper production programmes in Wayanad and Idukki districts.

         However consequent to the liberalisation of imports, there are reports of low quality pepper imported from other producing countries. The import of pepper has increased from 5839 MT in 2000 to 13120 MT in 2008 affecting the interests of pepper farmers of the State. The new Indo Asean FTA is expected to further deleteriously affect pepper farmers in the state. Government of India should build in adequate safety mechanism and monitoring system to see that the issue of certification of origin and the condition relating to origin of the goods are not violated. India could export 42806 MT of pepper in 1999-00, which declined to 25250 MT in 2008-09 which further declined to 19750 MT in 2009-10. The value realization was at 313.92 crores in 2009-10 which declined from  413.74 crores in 2008-09 and unit value realization has also declined to 158.94 per kg from  163.86 per kg. respectively in the corresponding period. 

         Price of pepper moved consistently upwards from early nineties and reached a peak level in 1999-00 with 215 per kg. Since then declined to 174 per kg. in 2000-01, further down to 80 per kg. in 2001-02 and increased slightly to 114.76/kg. in 2008-09 and further increased to  134.82/ kg in 2009-10. The recent upsurge in prices indicate the revival of pepper prices to the 1999-00 levels.


         In Kerala, the area under pepper is estimated at 0.85 lakh ha and production at 0.38 lakh MT during 2011-12. It is noted that the production has declined by 16.1 percent in the respective period caused by erratic weather condition in growing regions and also on account of structural issues. Insect pest problem of erythrina (standard), weather viability, absence of alternate standards, poor productivity, fluctuating prices etc. compounded the declining production. The domestic price of pepper shows an upward trend from the mid of twenties and reached to Rs. 418.58 per kg in October 2012 and further declined in Rs. 378.04 per kg. in February 2013. Revitalization of pepper is essential for improving the livelihood of farmers. A convergence approach is to be followed for implementing schemes by the Spices Board, State Horticulture Mission and the Department of Agriculture. Reorientation of pepper development scheme is required to regain the supremacy of the crop covering technology and market support, revival of pepper samithies, good quality planting materials and promotion of alternate standards.

          During 2011-12, in India a total quantity of 26,700 tonnes of pepper valued Rs. 878.13 crore have been exported as against 18,850 tonnes valued Rs. 383.18 crore in the last year. Pepper production in India during 2011-12 is estimated at 48 thousand tonnes. This stagnant nature of pepper production in recent years is mainly due to low productivity and disease affected pepper gardens. World pepper production during 2011-12 was estimated at 298.4 thousand tonnes compared to 329.7 thousand tonnes in 2010-11 period which shows a decline of 31.3 thousand tonnes. Vietnam holds the first position with 33.5 percent share of world pepper production and where India contribute 16.1 percent share with 2nd rank.



Cashew: Area under the crop in Kerala, has been declining steadily from 1.25 lakh ha. in 1988- 89 to 0.49 lakh ha. in 2009-10 and the production declined from 1.08 lakh MT to 0.36 lakh MT during the period and is shown below. The share of Kerala in the area under cashew in the country has come down from 23 percent in 1987-88 to 5.30 percent in 2009-10 and the corresponding decline in share of production from 31 percent to 5.95 percent. Area and production are increasing steadily in other producing states in the country. Maharashtra is the leading producer with 32.30 percent share in production during 2008-09, whose share was only 10 percent in 1990-91. 


             In spite of operating special schemes for expansion of area under cashew, the coverage has been steadily declining during the last two decades. The decline in area from 1980-81 to 2008-09 was to the tune of 88395 ha. During 2009-10, there was a further decline of 3903 ha under cashew in the state. Productivity of the crop, which was around 900 kg. per ha. During late eighties has also started declining from 1995-96 onwards, reaching 562 kg. per ha. During 1998-99 and thereafter hovering around 800 kg. In 2009-10, it has declined to 744 kg/ha. India exported cashew kernels worth 2905.82 crore during 2009-10 and imported raw nuts worth Rs.3037.35 crore resulting in a net foreign exchange loss of  131.53 crore. During 2009-10, there was a decline of 1.28 percent in quantity exported while 24.27 percent increase in quantity of raw nuts imported compared to previous year. U.S.A. is the major export market with 28 percent export share followed by UAE (16.8 percent). The total raw nuts imported into India during 2009-10 was 7.53 lakh MT. Around 35 percent of total raw nuts imported is from Ivory Cost followed by Guinea Bissau (15 percent). Tanzania has emerged as another supplier of raw cashew nuts with a share of 10 percent of total imports. The unit import price for raw cashew nut was 43.45/kg during 2008-09 as against 28.83/kg during the previous year. Out of imported nuts 57 percent of imported raw nuts is bought to Kerala during 2008-09 which was 46 percent in 1998-99. Cashew processing industry is finding it extremely difficult even to maintain the present level of capacity utilization because of the lower availability of local raw cashew nuts. Concerted efforts are needed to nurture this crop in the state with programmes to promote high density planting with high yielding cashew grafts. The initiatives of the Horticulture Mission to promote cashew cultivation needs to be upscaled with the involvement of the department of agriculture to promote cashew in potential areas.


Area under the crop in Kerala, has been declining steadily from 1.25 lakh ha. in 1988-89 to 0.44 lakh ha. in 2010-11. During 2011-12, there is 23.3 percentage increase in the area (0.54 lakh ha) and the production also surged to 0.37 lakh MT from 0.35 lakh MT in 2010-11. The share of Kerala in the area under cashew in the country has come down from 23 per cent in 1987-88 to 5.4 percent in 2011-12 and the corresponding decline in share of production is from 31 percent to 5.3 percent. Area and production are increasing steadily in other producing states in the country. Even though the major share of area under cashew comes from Andhra Pradesh (19.5%), Maharashtra is the leading producer with 32.2 percent share in production during 2011-12; Maharashtra’s share was only 10 per cent in 1990-91. Kerala holds 4th  position in cashew production.


In spite of operating special schemes for expansion of area under cashew, the coverage has been steadily declining during the last two decades except in 2011-12. Productivity of the crop, which was around 900 kg.per ha. during late eighties has also started declining from 1995-96 onwards, reaching 562 kg. per ha. during 1998-99 and thereafter hovering around 800 kg. In 2011-12, it further declined by 14 percent (680 kg. per ha) over the previous year. Details are given below.

Kerala has a substantial share in the four plantation crops of rubber, tea, coffee and cardamom. These four crops together occupy 7.02 lakh ha, accounting for 34.4 percent of the net cropped area in the state. Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber is 87.3 percent, cardamom 79 percent, coffee 22 percent and 7 percent in tea during the year 2011-12.



Rubber: India is the fourth largest producer of natural rubber with a share of eight percent in the world after Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. The production of natural rubber in the country was 8.31 lakh MT in 2009-10, registering a 3.8 percent decline compared to the previous year. India is at the same time the second largest consumer of natural rubber after China. A 34 percent decline in the consumption of USA was recorded in 2009 over 2008 while consumption in China and India increased by 17.70 percent and 2.70 percent respectively. Kerala accounts for 78 percent of the area under rubber in the country. The coverage under the crop in 2009-10 was 5.25 lakh ha, higher by 7933 ha. over the previous year. The production of natural rubber in Kerala during the year was 7.45 lakh tonnes indicating a 4.85 percent decline over the previous year. The increasing trend in productivity continued during 2008-09. It was 1190 kg. per ha in 1998-99, which rose to 1514 kg during 2008-09. However it declined slightly to 1419 kg/ha in 2009-10. In terms of tapping area, productivity recorded was 1867 kg. per ha during the year 2008-09 which declined to 1784 kg/ha in 2009-10. The total quantity imported was 86394 MT which slightly declined to 77616 MT in 2008-09. The import increased to 176756 MT in 2009-10. The higher prices in the international market is reflected in the domestic market also. The average price of RSS4 in the domestic market at Kottayam was 114.98 per kg. in 2009-10. The international price of RSS3, equivalent of RSS4 of India, was 111.13 in the corresponding period. The price of  RSS4 in Kottayam reached 137.82 during August 2008 and then declined to 64.88 in October 2008 and further increased to 108.98 in October 2009 and 149.48 in March 2010.


In Kerala the coverage under the crop in 2011-12 was 5.39 lakh ha, higher by 5335 ha. over the previous year. The production of natural rubber in Kerala during the period was 7.89 lakh tonnes indicating 2.4 percent increase over the previous year. In 2011-12, the productivity increased slightly to 1462 Kg/ha from 1442 Kg/ha in 2010-11. 87.3 percent of total rubber production in the country was from Kerala in the current year of 2011-12. The production of natural rubber in the country was 9.04 lakh tonnes in 2011-12, registering a 4.9 percent increase compared to 2010-11. The growth in production was attributed by favourable climate and attractive price. India continued to be in the first position in the world in productivity during 2011-12 also which increased to 1841 kg/ ha from 1806 kg/ha during 2010-11 in terms of yielding area. The total consumption of natural rubber in 2011-12 was 9.64 lakh tonnes with a growth of 1.8 percent as against 9.47 lakh tonnes during 2010-11. The import of Natural Rubber in the country up surged to 2.14 lakh tonnes in 2011-12 from 1.90 lakh tonnes in 2010-11. While export of Natural Rubber during 2011-12 declined to 27145 tonnes from 29851 tonnes in the previous year.




Coffee:The area under coffee in Kerala was 0.85 lakh ha out of 3.99 lakh ha in the country during 2009-10, which works out to 21 percent. The share of Kerala in production is 20.5 percent during 2009-10. Major variety grown in Kerala is Robusta with a share of 95 percent in planted area. Production of coffee during the year was only 0.59 lakh MT against 2.90 lakh MT for the country. Productivity of the crop in terms of bearing area in Kerala (705 kg/ha) is lower than the national level of 826 kg/ha. Area under coffee registered substantial increase during the last two decades with an annual growth rate of over 2 percent. The increase in production recorded during the period was much higher and registered an annual average growth rate of nearly nine percent. Coffee provides opportunities for livelihood to nearly one lakh families including agricultural labourers. In Kerala, coffee is also one of the small holder plantation crops with nearly 76,000 holdings coming under the category with an average size of 1.1 ha. Consumption of coffee has remained more or less static at around 55,000 tonnes for the past one and half decades till 1999 and then slightly improved to 70,000 tonnes in 2003, and further to 1 lakh tonnes in 2009.

      Coffee is a highly export dependent crop and more than 80 percent of domestic production is exported. The unit value realization has declined drastically from Rs.95.37 per kg. in 1997-98 to Rs.106.08 per kg in 2009-10. The quantity of coffee exported from India declined in 2009-10 to 2.04 lakh tonnes from 2.18 lakh tonnes in 2007-08 and slightly improved in 2008-09. To mitigate the problems of coffee growers arising from the low prices of coffee, a series of steps have been taken including the restructuring of loans and interest relief to coffee growers (a subsidy of 5 percent for small growers and 3 percent for large growers is available for working capital). Rainfall insurance as a risk management support for coffee growers in collaboration with AIC is also implemented. Government of India has approved in June 2010 the coffee debt relief package 2010 for the debt ridden small coffee growers with a total financial implication of Rs. 241.33 crores. It is in the early stage of implementation.

       The area under coffee in Kerala was 0.84 lakh ha out of 4.09 lakh ha in the country during 2011-12, which works out to around 21 percent. The percentage share of area under coffee is highest in Karnataka (56.1%). The share of Kerala in production is around 22 percent during 2011-12. Major variety grown in Kerala is Robusta with a share of 97.1 percent in planted area. Production of coffee during the year was only 0.68 lakh MT against 3.14 lakh MT for the country. Productivity of the crop in terms of bearing area in Kerala is 808 kg/ha which is lower than the national level of 852 kg/ha during 2011-12. Even though the area under coffee registered a slight decline during the period, the production has recorded 3.8 percent increase as against the previous year. Domestic coffee production for the year 2011-12 is more than 0.12 lakh tonnes compared to the previous year. Among the States, Kerala stands next to Karnataka which produces 70.4 percent of total coffee production


Tea:  Against the total area of 5.11 lakh ha under tea in the country Kerala accounts for only 0.37 lakh ha. In respect of production the share of Kerala is 6.6 percent in 2007. Tea plantations owned by big companies employ a labour force of over 84,000 in the organized sector. There is fluctuation in production and it ranged from 64.8 M. kgs. in 1995-96, reaching to 69.1 M.kgs. in 2000-01 which declined to 56 M kgs. in 2007 and improved to 57.81 M kg in 2009. Imports increased from 13.4 M. kg. in 2000 to 20.28 M kg. in 2009. However during 2003 the import declined substantially to 9.8 M. kgs. The maximum quantity of tea was imported from Nepal (31 percent), followed by Vietnam (25 percent) and Indonesia (11 percent). The unit value of imported tea was the lowest from Vietnam (Rs.53/kg) while the average being Rs.62/kg. The disturbing fact is that most of the countries are exporting to India at low prices. The average price of tea in 2007-08 was Rs.67.3 per kg which increased to Rs.110.30 in 2008-09 and declined slightly to Rs.107.81 in 2009-10. Productivity of Tea in India is much lower than that in Vietnam. The organic tea production is a major shift in this sector. (eg. Darjeeling tea). In Kerala coverage under organic tea could be increased . Government of India has set up a special purpose Tea Fund for funding replantation and rejuvenation aimed at improving the age profile of tea plantation with an estimated outlay of Rs.567.10 crores during Eleventh Five Year Plan. The estimated area to be taken up for replantation/ rejuvenation during the period would be 85044 ha in the country. 



         Against the total area of 5.8 lakh ha under tea in the country Kerala accounts for only 0.37 lakh ha 2011-12. Area under South India is estimated as 1.2 lakh ha in the period. In respect of total production of tea in India, the share of Kerala is 6.9 percent in 2011-12. There is a slight increase in production of tea in Kerala and it ranged from 0.57 lakh MT in 2010-11 to 0.58 lakh MT in 2011-12.

Cardomom:  Productivity which was more or less stagnant around 50 kg./ha. in the 1980s has improved to the level of around 203 kg. per ha by 2001 and increased slightly to 206 kg/ha in 2008-09 and declined to 188 kg/ha in 2009-10. The share of Kerala in production at the All India level increased from 28 percent in 1992-93 to 56 percent in 2008-09. While area under cardamom in the country has declined from 0.97 lakh ha to 0.73 lakh ha. in the period, in Kerala it has come down from 65,000 ha to 41593 ha. On the export front cardamom has been facing competition from Guatemala although the quality of Guatemala cardamom is inferior. The country could tide over the challenge by expanding domestic market through market promotion. The average price during 2000-01 was Rs.570 per kg. which is declined to Rs. 463.14 in 2007-08 and improved to Rs.506.44 in 2008-09 and Rs.800.08 in 2009-10. The Indian export of cardamom has increased from early nineties and reached a peak level of 1545 MT in 2000-01 and then increased by 27.8 percent in 2009-10 to reach 1975 MT. The unit price of exported Cardamom increased steadily to Rs.838 per kg. in 2009-10 from Rs.630 per kg. in 2008-09. However the market for cardamom is largely domestic as could be seen from the declining share of exports and the share of exports is only 5 percent of the production. 




Kerala accounted for a major share (78.8% ) in the total cardamom production in the country. Karnataka and Tamilnadu contributed 14.7 percent and 6.5 percent share respectively. In Kerala, the area under cardamom is 0.42 lakh ha comprising 59.2 percent of total area of crop in the country during 2011-12. The production has increased from 0.08 lakh MT to 0.10 lakh MT in the respective year. During 2011-12, India produced 12.98 thousand tonnes of Cardamom with an increase of 2.60 thousand tonnes compared to 10.38 thousand tonnes in the last year. Area under cardamom in the country is 0.71 lakh ha during this period.


Trend in Area, Production and Productivity of Crops and Performance


             In Kerala total food grain production reached to 0.6 lakh MT during the respective year Data regarding the area, production and productivity of important crops grown in Kerala are shown in the Table below. Out of a gross cropped area of 26.6 lakh ha. in 2011-12, food crops comprising rice, pulses and tapioca occupy 10.8 percent. Kerala state which had a low base in food production is facing serious challenges in retaining even this meager area. Kerala agricultural economy is undergoing structural transformation from the mid seventies by switching over a large proportion of its traditional crop area which was devoted to subsistence crops like rice and tapioca to more remunerative crops like banana and plantations.


Area, Production and Productivity of Principal Crops

Sl. No


Area (Ha)

Production (MT)

Productivity (Kg/ha)
































Other Cereals
















































































Other Plantains








Cashew nut
















Sweet Potato
























Coconut *


















































Source: DES

* Production of coconut in million nuts and productivity in numbers


Organic Farming in Kerala
               The certified organic agriculture in 2006-07 in India was 4.14 lakh ha with a major share in Madhya Pradesh (1.12 lakh ha) Maharashtra (96879.06 ha), Orissa (67503.39 ha) and Kerala (11141.54 ha). Production of organic tea, rice, vegetables, pepper etc is done in Kerala in small areas. Department of Agriculture, State Horticulture Mission (SHM), and VFPCK are the major agencies supporting the organic farming directly in the state apart from NGOs. The area covered under organic farming during 2005-06 to 2008-09 by SHM is 14279 Ha out of which 950 Ha area is under certification. A number of 61695 farmers are also covered by the mission during the period. The crop wise area under organic farming is given below.


                      The state Department of Agriculture is creating and promoting awareness on organic agriculture among farmers to a limited extent. During 2003-04, Dept. of Agriculture has set up a cell for promotion of Sustainable Agriculture and Organic Farming in Wayanad. In the year 2010-11 a programme to promote organic farming in selected 20 blocks was initiated. In the current year the programme is under progress focusing on food crops. Area based approach is required for promoting organic agriculture in selected crops. VFPCK is promoting Organic Farming in Nendran banana, leafy vegetables, bhindi, brinjal, bitter gourd and chilly. It is targeted to promote organic farming in 5500 ha in 2010-11 in all 14 districts. 

             The State has a number of non certified organic farmers who produce rice, vegetables and fruits. Some of them are under PGS certification (Participatory Guarantee System under PGS Council of India –a council formed by a group of organisations promoting organic farming among small and marginal farmers in the country and which is accredited by NCOF). Kerala State Jaiva Karshaka Samithy has a number of registered organic farmers in the state who are not certified. Similarly Kudumbashree Mission, Mahila Samakhya Society and many other organisations have promoted organic farming among women and most of them can be treated as farmers under conversion.

             Promotion of organic agriculture in Kerala could be done effectively after strengthening the organic input supply system and marketing network. The support for certification cost also to be provided. Isolated attempts were made for the last 5-6 years for promoting organic agriculture and major projects were not implemented through Government support.



Collective farming through Kudumbashree

         ‘Harithashree’, the lease land farming promoted by the State Poverty Eradication Mission, Kerala, through ‘Kudumbasree’, has helped women farmers to stay on in agriculture for their livelihood. The major crop cultivated by the Kudumbashree group is Paddy (27% of area) followed by Plantain and vegetables during 2009-10 under the lease land farming.
            During the financial year 2009-10, various crops including paddy, vegetables and others (banana, tapioca, pineapple, ginger, medicinal plants, betel vine) were cultivated in a total area of 25162.12 ha. Area brought under cultivation of paddy was 6790.93 ha, Vegetables contributed to 2987.96 ha and 15383.23 ha of area was covered by other crops. Details of area covered are depicted in Table 4.8. Correspondingly area incentive of Rs.10.68 crore has been distributed by Kudumbashree. In addition to this, a production incentive of Rs. 9.43 crore was also given. Thus a total expenditure of Rs.20.11 crore was incurred by Kudumbashree for collective farming.


Biofertilizers in Kerala


         Cattle, buffalo, goat, pig, poultry, duck are the major  live stock population reared in Kerala. In Kerala as per 2003 census nearly 94% of the livestock population is concentrated in the rural area, 80% of the livestock farmers area marginal farmers and agricultural farmers. Women constitute 60% of the workers in this sector. As per 2003 figures,Kerala's share in all India cattle population is 1.13%, buffalo population accounts only for 0.07%, goat 1.01% and pig 0.05%. Cattle population in the state is 21.22 lakh, of which 17.35 lakh were crossbed. Of the total cattle population Palakkad district accounts for 12.4% and Wayanad for 4.89%. Higher number of buffalo population is concentrated in Malappuram district (19%), goat in Thiruvananthapuram (12%) and pig in Idukky (30%). Regarding poultry Malappuram accounts for 13% fowls and Alappuzha accounts for 38% of ducks. 




































Livestock Development: Livestock sector in Kerala is livelihood intensive and also a major contributor to Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), it could be as high as 40 percent of the agricultural GSDP in Kerala. Contribution of livestock sector to the GSDP, is not made visible because it is always clubbed with Agriculture and allied sectors. Livestock production has been traditionally practiced in the State mainly as an extensive, low input subsistence system integrated with crop production. The subtle changes emerging in the sector calls for reorientation in the approach for future development and growth.

Trend in Livestock Population: Cattle population in Kerala which was 33.96 lakh in 1996 declined to 21.22 lakh in 2003 and further to 17.20 lakh by 2007. The crossbred cattle population which stood at 22.87 lakhs (67%) as per 1996 Census decreased to 17.35 lakh numbers and in percentage terms increased to 82% by 2003. It further declined to 16.21 lakh numbers and in percentage terms increased to 93% in 2007. This increase in proportion of crossbred population was made possible by expanded health care facilities and artificial insemination services available in the state.


Fisheries Sector
            The demand for fish and fishery products are increasing considerably in the country, both in domestic and exports fronts. The major share of 5.34 million tonnes is expected from inland aquaculture followed by 3.10 million tonnes from marine fisheries (Planning Commission 2007). The global production of fish from aquaculture has grown rapidly during the past four decades (accounts for nearly 45 percent of the world's food fish). China account for 67.3 percent of the food fish aquaculture production followed by India (5.9%) and Vietnam (3.0%).
               India is endowed with vast fisheries resources in terms of a coast line of 8118 km and 2.02 million of exclusive economic zone, including 0.53 million of continental shelf. The inland fisheries include rivers and canals (1.95 lakh km), reservoirs (3.15 million ha), food plain wetlands (0.30 million ha), estuaries (0.26 million ha), fresh waters (2.41 million ha) and brackish water bodies (1.24 million ha). These resources are one of the main sources of livelihood for the rural poor, particularly the fisher community. At present, an estimated 14 million people are engaged in fishing, aquaculture and ancillary activities in the country.
               The state has all the requisite natural endowments for building a strong and vibrant fisheries economy in tune with the national strategy. They include a stretch of coastal belt extending over 590 km and extensive inland water spread of around 4 lakh hectares. The exclusive economic zone (sea spread up to 200 metres) lying adjacent to Kerala coast is spread over 36000 square kilometres which is almost equivalent to the land area of the state.
                   The estimated fisher folk population of Kerala is 11.114 lakh, which include 8.558 lakh in the marine sector and 2.556 lakh in the inland sector. There are 222 fishing villages in the marine and 113 fishery villages in the inland sector, where fishing and relative activities provide livelihood to a vast majority of the population. Alappuzha district is the first place in the number of fisher folk with a population of 1.86 lakh followed by Thiruvananthapuram (1.83 lakh).


Species -wise Composition of Fish Landing

                  India endowed with a long coast line of 8129 kms, 2.02 million of exclusive economic zone and 1.2 million hectares of brackish water bodies, offers vast potential for development of fisheries. The demand for fish and fishery products are increasing both in domestic and export fronts. About 3.9 million tonns fishery potential are estimated from marine sector only 2.6 million tonnes are tapped.  93% of the fish production contributed by artisanal, mechanised and motorised sector, remaining 7% is contributed by deep sea fishing. India has been a major contributor to the world marine fish production and second largest producer of inland fish. The south west comprising Kerala, Karnataka and Goa were the highest contributor among regions and Tamilnadu among states (21%) followed by Kerala (20%). The anticipated natural growth rate of the XI plan period is 8.5% against the current growth rate of 7%.  Presently fisheries and aquaculture contribute 1.2% to the national GDP and 5.3% to agriculture and allied activities. In Kerala, fishing industry occupies an important position in its economy. Kerala’s share in the national marine fish production is about 20-25%. The water resources of this state comprise of a coastline of 590 Km length having a continental shelf area of the sea adjoining the Kerala state is  39139 sq.kms. Fisheries sector contribute 3% of the GSDP of the state. 

                     According to the Kerala Marine Fisheries Regulation Act, the inshore Area coming within the depth range of 50 meters has been demarcated for fishing by the traditional fishermen using country crafts and the area beyond the limit in the economic zones can be utilized by motorized boats and large vessels. As this restriction is not being strictly followed, monsoon trawling has been banned from 1980 onwards as preventive measures. Although the fish catches from the Kerala coast include more than 300 different species, the commercially important number about forty only. The high value species among the fish catches are still few; prominent among them are seer fish, pomfret and prawn. Ribbon fishes are also now a target group. During 2006-07 the catch of Ribbon fish was 18000 tonnes. Unfortunately the share of these high value varieties in the total marine fish catch has been remaining stagnant. The annual potential of prawn is estimated by 64482 tonnes. The average catch of prawn during 2006-07 was 56779 tonnes. The catch of oil sardine, the most important variety consumes mainly by the poorer sections of the society exceeded the potential in recent years. The catch of sardine during 2006-07 was 2.15 lakh tonnes.

                     Kerala is a coastal state and is bordered on the west by the marine flora and fauna rich Arabian Sea. Marine fish landings of India in 2010 was 3.07 million tones which recorded a decline of about 1.31 lakh tones compared to the estimate for 2009. Among the states, Tamilnadu was the highest contributor of marine fish followed by Kerala. During 2010-11, 5.6 lakh tonnes of marine fish were landed in Kerala showing a decrease of 0.10 lakh tonnes (1.75%) over the previous year. The fish catches from the Kerala coast include more than 300 different species; the commercially important number is about 40 only. The high value species among the fish catches are still few, prominent among them are Seer fish, Prawn, Ribbon fish and Mackerel. During 2010-11 the catch of Ribbon fish was 15196 metric tones and penaeid prawn was 47620 metric tones. The quality of these high value species in the total catch ultimately decides the income of the fishermen. Oil sardine accounted for the major share of landings (27%), heavy landing of juvenile oil sardine in ring seine was also recorded. The catch of oil sardine was 151839 metric tonnes during 2010-11, shows a decreasing trend over the previous years, which is the most important variety consumed mainly by the poorer sections of the society. 


  Species wise composition of Marine fish landings in Kerala (2004-2005 to 2006-2007) (Tonnes)

















 Cat Fish










 Oil Sardine





 Lesser Sardine















 Other Clupeids




















 Red Mullets














 12 a











 Other Carangids

















































 22 a

 Penaeid Prawn





 Non Penaeid Prawn


































Species-wise Inland Fish Production in Kerala (2003-04 to 2006-07)




































































 Jew Fish































Income from Fisheries sector: The Gross State Domestic Product of the State has increased by about 97% during the period from 2005-06 to 2010-11 and the share of fisheries sector in the State Domestic Product has declined from 1.81 to 1.29 percent in the same period. The share of Primary Sector in GSDP has also declined from 18.05 to 14.07 percent. The contribution of fisheries sector in GSDP is given below:


 Trend in Production

            Marine fisheries throughout the world are passing through a critical phase due to the present rate of biodiversity loss and fishing practices. Indian marine fisheries is also passing through a crisis due to its over capacity and open access nature. Marine fish production in India has showed a declining trend over the previous year. Estimates of the fishery resources assessment shows that among the maritime states in India, Kerala occupies the 2nd  position in marine fish production. The fish production in Kerala during 2010-11 was 6.81 lakh tonnes. The marine fishery resources of the state has almost attained the optimum level of production. During 2000-01 the inland fish production reached peak share of 13% of the total fish production of the state and thereafter declined slightly. At national level more than 50% of the total fish production is contributed by the inland sector. Government have approved a master plan for increasing the inland fish production of the state from the current level of 75000 tonnes to 2 lakh tonnes over a period of 10 years. It also aims at enhancing and developing the aquaculture for the economic and development of the state and ensuring food and livelihood security of the people in Kerala. The current level of Inland fish production is to the quantum of about 1.21 lakh tonnes. The National Agriculture Policy, which aims to attain a growth rate in excess of four percent annum in the agriculture sector, stresses the importance of food and nutritional security issues and the importance of animal husbandry and fisheries sectors in generating wealth and employment. India is one of the major fish producing countries in the world with third position in fisheries and second in inland fish production. During 2010-11, India’s total fish production was 6.82 million tones of which 3.07 million tonnes was from marine sector and 3.75 million tonnes was from Inland sector. The fisheries sector has contributed 1.1% of the National GDP and 4.7% of the GDP from Agriculture sector. 

            While marine fish production in Kerala tended to fluctuate the inland fish production showed a sign of improvement from 1999-2000. During 2010-11, the marine fish production has decreased to 5.6 lakh tonnes from 5.70 lakh tonnes of 2009-10. Inland production sustained on increasing trend. District wise marine fish production showed that Alappuzha contributed the highest (23.08 %) followed by Kollam (20.35%) and Kozhikode (14.95%). During 2010-11 the share of inland fish production to the total fish production of the state was 17.78%. The details of fish production for the last 5 years are given below.


Export: The marine fisheries sector in the country contributes about 81% of the total fish production and is one of the major contributors to foreign exchange earnings through sea food export. It constitutes about 16% of the total agriculture products export. Over 55 varieties of marine products are exported to different countries in South East Asia, Europe, China, Japan and USA. The total value of marine products export from the country was 12901.47 crore in 2010-11 which accounts for approximately 1.1% of the total export from India. The quantity of marine exports from India during 2010-11 was 8.13 lakh tones. When compared to the previous year, it recorded a growth of 28.39% in rupee terms, 19.85% in volume and 33.95% growth in US$. During 2010-11, the export earnings have crossed 2.8 billion US dollars and Rs.12,000 crore mark. Frozen shrimp is continued to be the single largest item of export in terms of value. It accounts 44.32% of the total export earnings. The other major items of export are Frozen Fin fish, frozen cuttle fish, etc.

            During 2002-03 and 2003-04 USA emerged as the single largest market for India’s marine products and during 2004-05, the European union has collectively became the largest importer of Indian marine products and retained its position since 2005-06. During 2010-11, European union continued as the largest market with a share of 26.78% in value followed by South East Asia (16.43%), China (15.41%), USA (15.35%) and Japan (13.06%). The major ports of India to handle the export cargo during the year in the order of value were Pipavav (16.94%), Kochi (15.61%), JNP (15.54%) and Chennai (13.03%). Export from Kochi port showed an increase in quantity as well as in rupee realization where as there was a decline in US$ terms by 0.69%.

            The marine products export from the State during 2010-11 was 1.25 lakh tonnes, an increase of 16.14% over previous year. It valued at Rs.2002.10 crore constituting 15.33% in terms of volume and 15.52% in terms of value to Indian marine product export. The major export item is frozen shrimp during 2010-11.

            The state’s share in all India exports has been declining in recent years. The share declined from 20% in quantity terms in 2000-01 to 15.33% in 2010-11 and the share in value decreased to 15.52% from 16%. Export of marine products from Kerala and India during 2010-11 are given below:



(1)Economic Review 2010,2011,2012,2013

(2)Directorate of Fisheries 

(3) Livestock census report/animal husbandry department