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Major Industrial Locations: Most of the industrial and commercial establishments in Kerala are concentrated in the coastal zone.Among the coastal districts, Ernakulam and Trivandrum have fairly large number of industries along the coast, followed by Alappuzha, Kollam, Kozhikode , Kannur, Kasargod and Malapuram. Eloor- Edayar- Ambalamugal area is the major industrial area located in the coastal zone in the city of Kochi in Ernakulam District along the banks of the Cochin backwaters.

Major Industries such as

  • Fertilizer and Chemicals Travancore Ltd.(FACT)
  • Kochi Refineries Ltd.(KRL)
  • Hindustan Organic Chemicals (HOC)
  • Cominco Binani and Cochin Shipyard are located in Kochi availing the advantage of the port facilities.

The world famous Chavara placer deposits of the Kollam district support three major mineral industries in Kerala viz.

  • The Indian Rare Earths Ltd. (IRE)
  • Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd.(KMML) at Chavara (Kollam)
  • The Travancore Titanium Products (TTP) at Veli (Trivandrum).

These units are situated closer to the sea. The Excel Glass factory situated near Cherthala utilizes the silica sands of the coastal zone of Alappuzha district for the manufacture of glass. Most of the seafood and coir industries in Kerala are located in the coastal area and are concentrated in Alappuzha district. There are 101 seafood factories in the coastal zone with a freezing capacity of approximately 1868 t /day, of which 47 are approved by the European Union. Besides, there are 210 peeling sheds and 217 ice plants. Cashew processing industries, a traditional enterprise in the state are mainly situated in the coastal area of Kollam district.There are about 300 large and medium scale industries and 1,66,000 small scale industries, most of them are located in the coastal area (KSPCB, 20002). Of these 250 large and medium scale industries and 5000 small scale industries are polluting significantly to the environment.

Industrial sector in Kerala

Industrial sector in Kerala comprises medium and large industries, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) and traditional industries. The departments/agencies that deal with medium and large industries are Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation Ltd (KSIDC), Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (KINFRA), Public Sector Restructuring and Internal Audit Board (RIAB), Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and Centre for Management Development (CMD). The agencies dealing with MSME and traditional industries are Department of Industries and Commerce, Directorate of Handloom and Textiles, Directorate of Coir Development, Khadi and Village Industries Board and Capex. Department of Mining and Geology also comes under this sector.

Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)

The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector is fast emerging into a major income generating and employment providing sector in Kerala with relatively lower investment. Kerala is one of the main centres of MSMEs in the country. As per the MSME survey & Quick Results of 4th Census 5.62 % of all India share of MSME enterprise is in Kerala. MSME sector can lead the State economy by increasing exports through quality production techniques and products. Government provides various schemes in MSME sector, targeting various social groups like SC, ST, Women, Youth, and Physically Handicapped etc. In Kerala, Government and banks are providing lot of facilities for MSME Sector.

Within the MSME Sector there is a significant increase of Micro Enterprises, both in terms of working enterprises and employment. There are over 6000 various MSME products ranging from traditional to high-tech items which are manufactured in this sector. MSMEs play a critical role in innovation, and have ability to experiment with new technologies on small scales. However, they often suffer from funds, lack of entrepreneurial spirit, inability to take technology developments risks and face the difficulty of attracting skilled manpower. The industries coming under this sector are handicrafts, Handloom, Khadi, Food processing industries, Garment making and Textile industries, industries related to coir/wood/bamboo/Plastic/rubber/ leather/clay products etc.

MSME sector in Kerala

In Kerala, DIC discontinued the practice of filing EM Part II from September 18, 2015, and in its place, started online registration in Udyog Aadhar. As on March 31, 2018, the total number of Udyog Aadhar Memorandums filed was 55,090, under which the number of micro, small and medium units in the manufacturing sector were 31,518, 4,517 and 215 respectively (totalling 36,250 numbers). In addition, there were 15,292, 3,437, and 111 micro, small and medium units respectively in the service sector, amounting to a total of 18,840 numbers. The details are given in the figure below:

Number of micro, small and medium units registered under manufacturing and services sector for the year 2017-18

According to DIC, 15,468 new MSME units operations started in Kerala in 2017-18 with a total investment of ₹1,24,961.00 lakh, and generating employment for 51,244 persons. Ernakulam occupies the highest position in new MSME units generating 1,895 jobs, while Palakkad tops in employment generation with 6,391 new jobs. Idukki was at the lowest position with 248 new MSME units, generating employment for 692 persons.

District wise MSME units with Udyog Aadhaar Number as on 31-03-2018 is given below:

MSME unitswith Udyog Aadhaar Number as on 31-03-2018
District Name Manufacturing Services Total Grand Total
Micro Small Medium Total Micro Small Medium
1 Thiruvananthapuram 5030 366 15 5411 4525 798 15 5338 10749
2 Kollam 2778 315 11 3104 823 188 6 1017 4121
3 Pathanamthita 1047 95 10 1152 426 68 0 494 1646
4 Alappuzha 2975 304 31 3310 838 156 10 1004 4314
5 Kottayam 1860 245 13 2118 868 198 7 1073 3191
6 Idukki 757 65 4 826 269 56 1 326 1152
7 Ernakulam 5242 1402 57 6701 3364 990 35 4389 11090
8 Thrissur 3515 432 21 3968 1455 328 9 1792 5760
9 Palakkad 1699 327 23 2049 762 126 14 902 2951
10 Malappuram 1867 269 5 2141 452 122 3 577 2718
11 Kozhikode 2055 295 13 2363 601 193 6 800 3163
12 Wayanad 442 63 1 506 111 30 0 141 647
13 Kannur 1589 245 11 1845 513 108 4 625 2470
14 Kasargod 662 94 0 756 285 76 1 362 1118
Total 31518 4517 215 36250 15292 3437 111 18840 55090
Source: Directorate of Industries & Commerce

District-wise details of new MSME units started in Kerala during 2017-18 as per Performa 2 received in DICs .

District-wise details of new MSME units started in Kerala during 2017-18 as per Performa 2 received in DICs
Sl.No State / District No of MSME units started as per preform 2 Total Investment (Rs. crore) Employment generated (Nos.)
1 Thiruvananthapuram 1656 90.12 5559
2 Kollam 1063 109.31 3815
3 Pathanamthita 833 68.78 3051
4 Alappuzha 1315 140.70 4053
5 Kottayam 913 49.97 2598
6 Idukki 248 13.30 692
7 Ernakulam 1895 141.80 6328
8 Thrissur 1836 119.89 5202
9 Palakkad 1907 132.85 6391
10 Malappuram 1243 120.83 4520
11 Kozhikode 1200 166.75 4506
12 Wayanad 302 15.23 786
13 Kannur 710 51.02 2543
14 Kasargod 347 29.06 1200
Total 15468 1249.61 51244
Source: Directorate of Industries & Commerce

Industries in Kerala: Kerala, with all its limitation, is putting efforts for speedy Industrial Development in the state. traditional industries are handloom, cashew, Coir and Handicrafts where the persons employed are from weaker sections of the community. 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.There are a number of manufacturing units for production of precision instruments, machine tools, petroleum products, paints, pulp paper, newsprint, glass and non-ferrous metals.Principal export products are cashew nut, tea, coffee, spices, lemon grass oil, seafood, rose wood and coir. The land of Kerala is endowed with a number of deposits of good quality china clay and beach sands containing a variety of valuable minerals. Heavy mineral sands and china clay contribute more than 90 percent of the total value of mineral production in the state. Kerala possesses one of the world – class deposits of mineral sands in the coastal tracts between Neendakara and Kayamkulam. Gold occurs in Kerala both as primary and placer deposits and the known occurrences are mainly in Wayanad and Nilambur regions.

1. Handicraft industry : Handicraft industry is one of the traditional industries of Kerala. Kerala has the tradition of making beautiful handicrafts with ivory, bamboo, palm leaves, seashells, wood, coconut shells, clay, cloth, coir, metals, stone, lacquer ware, and so on. Many old handicraft classics can be seen in palaces, old heritage homes and museums in the State. A vast majority of the traditional artisans belong to socially and economically backward classes.

Importance of Handicraft Industry: Kerala State Handicrafts Apex Co-operative Society (SURABHI), Handicrafts Development Corporation, and Artisans Development Corporation are the major agencies for the promotion of the handicraft industry in Kerala.

2. Bamboo Industry: Bamboo is a highly productive renewable and eco-friendly resource and has several applications. It is widely used in environment protection, as a nutrient food, high-value construction material and in about 1,500 other applications. It is estimated that about 2.5 billion people use bamboo in one form or the other at the global level. Advanced research activities are conducted to utilize bamboo for efficient fuel generating system.

In Kerala, 28 species of bamboo are found. Bamboo from the Kerala forest are being supplied mainly to the pulp and rayon units under concessional rates. It is estimated that there are about one lakh people in the State dependent on bamboo for their livelihood. A unique feature of Kerala is that 67.3 percent of the extracted bamboo comes from home gardens rather than from the forests (Source: ).

3. Handloom Industry: Among traditional industries of Kerala, handloom sector stands second only to the coir sector in providing employment. Kerala’s textile industry comprises traditional handloom sector, power loom and the spinning sector. The handloom industry in the State is mainly concentrated in Thiruvananthapuram and Kannur District and in some parts of Kozhikode, Palakkad, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Kollam and Kasaragod Districts. The industry is dominated by the co-operative sector, covering 96 per cent of total looms. The remaining 4 percent of handloom units are owned by industrial entrepreneurs.

4. Cashew: Cashew is an important commercial horticulture crop of India. The overall production of raw cashew nuts in India during 2010-11 was estimated at 653000 MT as against the estimated production of 613000 MT in 2009-10, showed an increase of 6.53 percent. Kerala has a long tradition both in cashew cultivation and cashew nut processing. Though the production of raw cashew nuts in Kerala shows an upward trend, during 2010-11 it has increased from 66000 MT in 2009-10 to 71000 MT. An estimate of domestic production of raw cashew nuts in various states during 2010-11.The total export of Cashew Kernels from India during 2010-11 was 91559 MT, valued at Rs.2598.15 crore which registered a heavy decline of 15.32 percent in quantity and 10.59 percent in value as com-pared to the previous year. Similarly, the total export of cashew kernels from Kerala during 2010-11 was 49692 MT valued at Rs.1417.28 crore. It showed a decreasing trend of 3.2 percent in quantity and 4.7 percent in value. Nearly 54 percent of total exports of India is from Kerala.

Trend in export of cashew kernels from India and Kerala in terms of quantity in MT

Source: Cashew Export Promotion Council of India

Kerala's share in total export of cashew kernels from India in volume has been declining from 57.29 percent in 2014-15 to 46.24 percent in 2016-17 and to 43.78 percent in 2017-18. In value terms it declined from 57.04 per cent in 2014-15 to 46.73 percent 2016-17 and to 43.95 percent in 2017-18. The details are shown below:

Export of cashew kernels, Kerala and India, 2011-12 to 2017-18, in ? crore
Year Kerala India Share of Kerala (%)
Quantity (in MT) Value Quantity (in MT) Value Quantity (in MT) Value
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
2011-12 68,655 2,295.84 130,869 4,383.82 52.46 52.37
2012-13 53,624 2,138.47 100,105 4,046.23 53.57 52.85
2013-14 65,679 2,861.75 114,791 5,058.73 57.22 56.57
2014-15 68,150 3,098.75 118,952 5,432.85 57.29 57.04
2015-16 50,652 2,579.49 96,346 4,952.12 52.57 52.09
2016-17 38,054 2,415.32 82,302 5,168.78 46.24 46.73
2017-18 36,930 2,580.35 84,352 5,870.97 43.78 43.95
Source: Cashew Export Promotion Council of India

The export of cashew shell liquid from India registered a sharp decline of 27.11 percent in volume and 25.84 percent in value in 2017-18. It was 8,325 MT valued at 32.63 crore in 2017-18 as against 11,422 MT valued at ₹44 crore in 2016-17. The cashew shell liquid was not exported from Kerala 2017-18.

5. Beedi Industry: Beedi Industry in Kerala is concentrated in Kozhikkode, Kannur and Kasaragod. The Kerala Dinesh Beedi Workers Central Co-operative Society Ltd. was the only agency in the State to promote beedi industry in the organized sector. During the period under review, the society concentrated on the upliftment of units for the diversified products for the rehabilitation of about 7000 beedi workers under the society. The society distributed Rs.466.03 lakh as Relief Pension to beedi workers and Rs.600.00 lakh as gratuity to the workers who retired from service from the year 2006-07 to 30.09.2009.

As part of product diversification programme, the Society started a Dinesh Garment unit, Dinesh Umbrella unit and Dinesh Foods. Dinesh Garment unit, Thana, Kannur provided employment to 150 workers. During 2010-11, the profit of the unit was Rs.57.58 lakh and the sales turnover was Rs.6.52 lakh. Two more units of Dinesh Garment at Chala , Kannur and Cheruvathur, Kasargod which will provide employment to 250 workers were initiated functioning with training to workers and the development activities of Dinesh Cocunut milk unit is also started.

Industrial Export: Performance of the export of Cashew Kernels during 2006-07 has recorded a negative growth of 16 per cent compared to the previous year. At the same time export of Tea, Coir products, Coffee etc. recorded positive growth.

As per the export-import statistics, the share of agricultural products in the total export earnings of the country in 2015-16 was 6.84 percent and cashew kernels ranked 6th among them contributing 4.28 percent of the agri product exports. The total exports of cashew kernels from India in 2016-17 was 82,302 MT valued at Rs.5168.78 crore as against 96,346 MT valued at Rs.4952.12 crore in 2015-16. There has been a decrease of 14.58 percent in quantity and increase of 4.38 percent in value terms. The major markets for Indian cashew kernels in 2016-17 were USA, UAE, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Netherlands, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Korea, etc. In the history of Indian cashew industry, it is the first time that UAE became the largest importer of cashew kernels from India moving USA to the second position. UAE’s share is 23 percent of the total and that of USA is 21 percent. Among major markets, Singapore, Qatar, Algeria and Jordan recorded an increase and other major markets showed a decreasing trend in terms of quantity.

Export of Cashew Kernels – Kerala and India (2010-2017), Quantity in MT, Value in crore

Year Kerala* India Share of Kerala (per cent)
Quantity Value Quantity Value Quantity Value
2010-11 56578 1478.67 105755 2819.39 53.50 52.45
2011-12 68655 2295.84 130869 4383.82 52.46 52.37
2012-13 53624 2138.47 100105 4046.23 53.57 52.85
2013-14 65679 2861.75 114791 5058.73 57.22 56.57
2014-15 68150 3098.75 118952 5432.85 57.29 57.04
2015-16 50652 2579.49 96346 4952.12 52.57 52.09
2016-17 38054 2415.32 82302 5168.78 46.24 46.73
2017-18 36,930 2,580.35 84,352 5,870.97 43.78 43.95
*Export through Cochin Port. Source: The Cashew Export Promotion Council of India

Exports of Coffee: Export of coffee from India during 2016-17 was reported as 35,5665 MT (provisional) valued at Rs. 5,634.84 crore. There is an increase of 11.83 percent in quantity and 8.87 percent in value over the previous year in which export was 31,8039 MT valued at Rs. 5,175.61 crore. Export of coffee from Kerala through Cochin Port during 2016-17 was 5,5874 MT valued at Rs.885.22 crore, as against 54720 MT valued at Rs.858.16 crore in 2015-16. The 3 percent decrease in the value is due to the fall in price of coffee.

Exports of Tea: Export of tea from India during 2016-17 was reported as 227,630 MT valued at Rs.4,632.50 crore against 2,329,209 MT valued at Rs.4,493.1 crore in 2015-16. The export slightly decreased by 2.27 percent while the value increased by 31.02 percent. Export of tea from Kerala ports stood at 69,706 MT valued at Rs.1,025.34 crore in 2015-16 as against 69,343 MT valued at Rs.948.78 crore in 2014-15. The exports slightly increased by 0.52 percent in volume and 8.07 percent in terms of value.The details are shown below:

Export of Tea from Kerala Ports and India (2010-2017),

Quantity in MT, Value in crore

Export of cashew kernels, Kerala and India, 2011-12 to 2017-18, in ? crore
Year Kerala India
Quantity Value Quantity Value
2010-11 48104 552.12 222019 3058.31
2011-12 71784 742.87 214355 3304.83
2012-13 69017 904.62 216231 4005.93
2013-14 75036 1064.67 225764 4509.09
2014-15 69343 948.79 199077 3823.64
2015-16 69706 1025.34 232920 4493.10
2016-17* - - 227630 4632.50
*April-September.                                                    Source: Tea Board, India.

Exports of Spices: Indian spices exports continue its upward trend and attained an all time record in 2016-17 in both volume and earnings. During the above period, a total of 947,790 MT of spices and spice products valued at Rs. 17,664.61 crore was exported from India, as against 843,255 MT with a value of Rs. 16,238.23 crore in 2015-16. It indicates an increase of 12.39 percent in volume and 8.78 pe cent in value.

The export of spices from Kerala (through Cochin and Thiruvananthapuram Ports) decreased to 84,656.95 MT valued at Rs. 3,857.88 crore in 2016-17 from 10,0076 MT with a value of Rs. 3,905.18 crore during 2015-16, registering a decline of 1.21 percent in value and 15.41 percent in volume. Pepper, cardamom, chilli, turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, other seed spices, nutmeg and mace, other miscellaneous spices, curry powder/mixture, spice oils and olernes and mint products are the main spices exported through Kerala’s ports. Even though total export of spices from Kerala decreased during 2016-17, export of certain spices like turmeric, cumin, celery, fennel, fenugreek, garlic, nutmeg, mace and curry powder/mixture increased both in volume and value during the review period compared to the previous year.

Small-Scale Industry (SSI): Small-scale Industry has emerged as a major determining factor in the growth of our economy in terms of employment generation. The sector contributes maximum production for domestic and export markets and produces variety of products ranging from traditional to hightech. Out of the total number of registered working SSI units 195960 units, 41305 units are promoted by women, 6834 by SCs, 1414 by STs and 146407 by others. The additional investment made by the SSI units during 2006-07 (up to 1.10.2006) is Rs.8815 lakh and the employment provided is 12352. Out of the total 195960 units registered so far in the State, the number of units identified as sick as on March 2007 is 7586. Among the sick units, 2376 units are registered for revival and 1280 units are revived.

Special Economic Zone: Special Economic Zone provides high quality and world class infrastructure designed to render cost of products, delivery, logistics and transactions competitive on global basis. The special policy disseminated by the Central Government provides for setting up of SEZs in the public, private, joint sector or by State Governments. The units operating in Special Economic Zones are excluded from the sectoral restrictions prevalent in the conventional manufacturing sector. Apart from this, these units also enjoy other benefits like single - window clearance, 100 per cent exemption of income tax for the first five years, self certificate of activities exemption from routine customs check etc. In India , the total number of valid formal approvals of Special Economic Zone as on August 2007 is 366 of which 142 are notified SEZs. The total investment made in the notified Special Economic Zones comes to Rs.46705 crore with an employment of 40153 during 2006-07.The export from these Special Economic Zones was for Rs.34787 crore with a growth of 52 percent over the previous year.

Cochin Special Economic Zone (CSEZ): The Cochin Special Economic Zone (CSEZ) is one of the seven Special Economic Zones of Central Government. It was set up as a Multi - Product Export Processing Zone in 1984 to boost exports from the State. The Cochin Export Processing Zone was converted into a Special Economic Zone in November 2000. Spread over an area of 103 acres in the newly emerging Kakkanad, mere five kilometers away from the city center, on the Cochin Seaport Airport Highway, it is well connected to the National Highway network. CSEZ is a multi product zone with 81 working units and four under implementation units (as on 31.3.2007) in sectors as varied as software, hardware, engineering, readymade garments, food processing, rubber products, gem & jewellery, manufacturing and with more than 7800 employees making it the single largest employment destination in the State. Both Multi National Corporations and domestic corporates have set up their units in this zone. Export during 2006-07 was of Rs.1037.52 crore as against Rs.696.00 crore during 2005-06, thereby registering a growth of 49.07 percent. During 2006-07, 61 units have been in operation and 19 under implementation units in Kerala. One unit operates in Lakshadweep. Export from EQUs of Kerala was of Rs.1071 crore during 2006-07 and the export during 2007-08 is projected as Rs.1250 crore. Five Special Economic Zones have been notified in Kerala during 2006-07, of which three are IT / ITES zones and two Port Based Zones. After the Special Economic Zone Act followed by SEZ Rules of Government of India, along with other States, Kerala has also experienced a rapid increase in the number of proposals and approved SEZs. Eight SEZs have been notified for Kerala after SEZ Act 2005.