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Kerala is rich in industrial potentialities and infrastructure facilities such as hydro-electric power, rich forests, rare minerals like ilmenite and monozite and the efficient system of transport and communications. Traditional industries are handloom, cashew, coir and handicrafts. Other important industries are rubber, tea, ceramics, electric and electronic appliances, telephone cables, transformers, bricks and tiles, drugs and chemicals, general engineering, plywood splints and veneers, Beedi and cigar, soaps, oils, fertilizers and Khadi and village industry products.
A number of manufacturing units have also sprung-up for production of precision instruments, machine tools, petroleum and petroleum products, paints, pulp paper, newsprint, glass and non-ferrous metals. Principal export products are cashewnut, tea, coffee, spices, lemongrass oil, sea foods, rose wood and coir. The State has an abundance of important minerals like ilmenite, rutile, monazite, zircon, sillimanite, clay and quartz sand.
Total number of industrial units in Kerala as on 31 March 1998 was 474. There are 110 public sector undertakings in the State. Out of 34 units established up to March 1999 27 Technopark are in the field of Information Technology. The Software Technology Parks of India is already running complexes in Thiruvananthapuram with 17 units functioning under its umbrella directly and three other units in private premises, all engaged primarily in the export of computer software from the country. Thirty one companies with a total capital investment of Rs 6,545 lakh are functioning at Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram. There are about 1,91,672 persons employed in the Khadi and village industries sector in the State.
Agriculture forms the main occupation of the people. About 50 per cent of the population depend upon agriculture for their livelihood. A unique feature of the State is the predominance of cash crops. Kerala is a major producer of coconut, rubber, pepper, cardamom, ginger, cocoa, cashew, arecanut, coffee and tea. Tree spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, etc., are also cultivated. Rice and tapioca are important food crops. Coconut is the most important cash crop of Kerala while pepper earns the maximum foreign exchange. Banana, pineapple, mango and jackfruit are major fruit crops. Kerala is not self-sufficient in food production.
The State has a gross cropped area of 3.87 lakh hectares under paddy cultivation during 1997-98. Although Kerala has lost its leading position in the production of coconuts with only 41 per cent of the total national production, it continues to be the predominent supplier of milling copra. During the 1997-98 the State continues to hold the monopoly in pepper production. The State accounts for more than 86 per cent of the area under rubber, 53 per cent under cardamom, 27 per cent under coffee and 9 per cent under tea. The area under rubber in the State, during 1997-98 was 4.63 lakh hectares.