Wednesday, 10 September 2008



Over 15,000 square miles of land live a population of some 24 million people with an overall density of 1,600 persons per square mile. About one-sixth is forest; of the rest, most of the land is cultivated often with maximum efficiency according to current Indian standards. Rice still dominates,being the staple food of the masses. Rice cultivation is becoming extremely expensive due to high wages and high price of fertilizers; often cheap rice can be purchased from neighboring AndhraPradesh and Tamil Nadu,Kuttanad, the rich alluvial coastland is no longer considered the granary of Kerala;

the soil is no longer fertile; and labor troubles and socialist land-reforms have driven hard-working farmers out of business. Farmers are paying increasing attention to cultivating tea, coffee, pepper, cardamom, and rubber in the High Ranges and the middle laterite hill region. After rice, coconut is the chief crop; the coconut acreage is nearly equal to that of rice. Next to rice as the essential food. coconut palm is the basis of economy for a very large number of people. The chief products of coconut are coir, copra, oil, and oil-cake. Coconut is used as a staple article of diet in meat curries, vegetable curries, and pastries. The coconut-leaves are frequently used as thatch, for the manufacture of brooms, baskets, umbrellas, tattis (screens kept soaked to cool rooms), fans, and firewood. A large number of cottage industrial workers are employed in the production of coir-yarns (rope) which will later be used to make coco-mats (coir-mats).

Tapioca or Cassava is the next important crop which like potato has saved millions of people from starvation during times of famine; people eat less tapioca these days. Spices like cardamom, pepper, gingelly, cloves, and ginger are important peasant-produced cash crops. Nearly every homestead still has its plantains (banana), areca-nut palms, and mango trees. In the past ten years the Gulf countries of the Middle East have become avid buyers of Kerala's agricultural products, so much so, greedy farmers ship the best of all their products including livestock abroad leaving the natives with only the second best produce. The cashew industry, once the monopoly of Kerala, is still going strong in spite of stiff competition from China and Africa.

Other Occupations

Fishing- plays a big part in Kerala's cultural and commercial life. Motorization of boats, better storage, and more efficient marketing have been undertaken during the past twenty-five years. They all have helped the fishing industry. Because of the lack of minerals, coal, and iron ore, Kerala can never become an industrial state like Maharashtra,Gujarat, and Punjab. However, the abundance of forest products, availability of electric power, efficient supply of water, and the abundance of skilled workers have attracted many industries to Kerala, notwithstanding the businessman's fear of the ever-looming specter of Communism that Kerala flaunts.

Except for local clay and laterite, the only minerals of Kerala are ilmenite, monazite, and zircon sands on the beaches from Quilon to Kovalam. These contain 8-10% thorium oxide which is of strategic importance in relation to atomic power. Titanium from ilmenite and cerium from monazite are essential in some electrical and chemical industries -- for electrodes, tracer bullets, and benzine synthesis, among others. The Titanium Plant near Trivandrum is a profitable undertaking. The Keltron Plant that manufactures radios and television sets makes Kerala's name synonymous with T.V. The Space Research Center of Thumba is one of its kind in all of India. In short, like India, Kerala also has entered the world of high technology and the age of space exploration.

Human Potential Export

The major export of Kerala today is its skilled workers and college graduates who go to most parts of India and abroad to places like the Gulf countries. When immigration to Europe and America opened up in the fifties and sixties, a large number of educated Keralites went abroad seeking employment and fortune. Their financial success in foreign lands resulted in increasing inflation in Kerala due to higher wages and short supply of indigenous products and the rising cost of real estate. The Gulf emigres hope that they would some day build a mansion and retire in glory in Kerala, Though the rate of immigration to the Gulf countries has leveled off, immigration from Kerala to other parts of India continue. This immigration phenomenon and the spread of education and prosperity have succeeded in checking Kerala's population growth. Kerala has almost achieved zero population growth.

Flora and Fauna

Kerala's forests abound in a variety of rare animals and birds. The elephant, tiger, lion-tailed monkey, Indian gaur, python, striped mountain goat, and wild fowl are still found in Kerala's forests, though in reduced numbers because of man's encroachment on animal territory.. Mahogany, sandal-wood, teak-wood, and rose-wood are still the proud products of these forests. During the past thirty years, the forest department has been taking meticulous care to plant new teak-wood trees and eucalyptus trees to prevent deforestation. It is to be mentioned that teak-wood from Kerala had found its way before the Christian era for the construction of buildings in places like the Ur of Chaldea; Kerala's teak-wood went into the construction of British ships used by Admiral Nelson in the battle of Trafalgar against Napolean.


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