Andaman Plantation Resources
Plantation resources of Andaman and Nicobar Islands includes coconut, areca nut, rubber, red oil palm and other plantations like cashew nut, nutmeg, cinnamon etc., which are discussed below.
The location of these Islands in the tropical belt and the high amount of rainfall provide favorable conditions for the natural growth of coconut plants. The area under coconut cultivation in these islands is about 22,000 hectares with a production of about 7.3 crore of nuts per annum. The plantations are owned either by individuals or by co-operatives and are mostly concentrated in the islands of the Nicobar district. Despite heavy consumption of coconut by the Nicobarese, the bulk of the production is sent to the mainland. Nearly 2,020 hectares of Andaman and Nicobar islands are under areca nut plantation with a production of about 3,030 tons per annum. Areca nut is grown both in the Andaman as well as in the bulk of the areas as well as the production. Areca nut is mainly sent to the mainland.
The rubber Board made an assessment in the year 1959 that about 4000 hectares in Katchal, 1200 hectares in Ruthland and about 2400 hectares in Great Nicobar, could be brought under rubber plantations. The soils as well as the agro-climatetic conditions in the territory, particularly in the Nicobar Group of Islands, are suitable for the introduction of rubber plantation on a large scale. At present, rubber plantation has been taken up in the south Andaman Group of Islands and Katchal islands of the Nicobar Group of islands. In South Andaman, plantations were raised on revenue lands whereas in Katchal Island, the forest lands were utilized for this purpose. So far an area of 614 hectares has been covered, out of which 593 hectares belongs to the rubber Board. Latex, a product from the rubber plantations is tapped. It is converted into rubber sheets and the entire production is sent to the mainland.
Red Oil Palm
The Forest Department initiated, on an experimental basis, red oil palm cultivation in Little Andaman, 1975 and covered an area of 2,400 hectares. The area was, however, restricted to 200 hectares only under instructions from the Government of India pending study with regard to the effect of red oil palm plantations on the environment and ecology of these islands. The experiment was subsequently taken over by the Forest plantations Development Corporation Ltd., which started functioning from 1st April, 1977. About 1600 hectares of area has been planted so far. The red oil palm plantations involve clear felling of the rain forests.
The other plantation crops like pepper, cloves, nutmeg, cashew nuts, cinnamon etc., are being tried on an experimental basis in south Andaman. Pepper, Cloves and Cashew nuts are showing encouraging results.