Kochi: The Kerala government is working towards a single-window system to expedite the use of five per cent of the state’s plantation sector for other purposes, Minister for Law, Industries and Coir P Rajeeve said here on Saturday.

Authorities are making the move to overcome practical hazards in getting official approval for non-plantation projects in the sector, the minister said after inaugurating the second edition of the Kerala Plantation Expo in the city.

“We are set to soon convene a meeting of all the allied departments. The single-window system will come into existence at the start of the next financial year,” Rajeeve said.

The minister said renovation of the quarters for the plantation labourers has been a major issue adding to the financial burden of the owners. To mitigate this, the government will bear fully or partly the interest on the loans the plantation owners take to renovate old quarters. He said a meeting being convened on January 25 will work out the plan for this.

The government has included plantations under a World Bank project for replanting the estates for their improved productivity. The Kerala Rubber Ltd, which is set to begin operations at Velloor in Kottayam district, will go beyond the conventional use of the product. The product will cater to value addition, besides sectors such as defence and health. The state will also see startups in the area of rubber, the minister said.

The three-day event, being organised at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium by the Plantation Directorate of the State Industries Department, is hosting an array of special business-to-business meets amid a grand showcase of the products and services in the sector.

The state’s MSME sector saw the start of no less than 2.10 lakh enterprises till date from the 2022-23 fiscal, Rajeeve said. “This generated 4.5 lakh job opportunities. As for the current financial year, the first three quarters (ending December 2023), MSME units got loans totalling Rs 81,000 crore from various banks,” he added.

Industries and Commerce Director S Harikishore, who is a special officer, Plantation, said the department has entrusted IIM-Kozhikode to study the issues facing the state’s plantation sector and prescribe solutions. “Based on that report, we will go for a comprehensive policy for the sector,” he revealed in the welcome address.

The expo seeks to catalyse the state’s measures towards the growth of its plantation sector by revealing its brand potential to tap the global and domestic demand for a whole range of products and services.

Entry will be free, with the stalls open from 9 am till 11 pm. The stalls are by Kerala-registered plantations, distributors of tools and equipment related to the sector, service providers and plantation institutions under the state and central governments. There are also live demonstrations on all three days, enabling the public to get first-hand knowledge of the products and services in the sector. The first edition of the Plantation Expo was held in Thiruvananthapuram in February 2023.