Rubber growers appeal to change import duty structure

'Hike in import duty will discourage purchase of imported and inferior quality rubber from Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia'

The rubber growers have urged the Central government to change its import duty structure to check the fall in price of natural rubber coupled with increase in import.

Addressing a press meet here on Tuesday, Organising Committee of Rubber Growers Association President P Gopalakrishna Bhat said that many of the growers are apprehensive that if the import continues at the current level, the prices will dip further.

The growers have urged the government to increase the import duty on natural rubber from 20 per cent to 75 per cent. Currently, import duty on natural rubber is pegged at 20 per cent or Rs 30 a kilogram, whichever is lower. If the import duty is hiked, then it will discourage the purchase of imported and inferior quality of rubber from Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.

With natural rubber prices falling to levels of Rs 128 a kg and imports on rise, the growers are keen to stave-off imports through higher duty rate. The prices of rubber have reduced from Rs 220 in 2012 to Rs 160 in 2013 and 128 in August, 2014.

On the other hand import has increased from 81,545 tonne in 2008 to 3.25 lakh tonne in 2013-14. In 2014 till June , 1.61 lakh tonne rubber has been imported. If the import continues to increase, then about four lakh to six lakh tonnes of rubber will be imported and the demand for domestic natural rubber will decline.

“Decline in production and fall in price will have adverse impact on the rubber growers in coming months,” he said.

The government should protect the interest of the growers. The government should not include rubber in horticulture crop category. It should be inculded in the industrial input category, to increase the import duty.

KRUPA to be formed

Regional Rubber Planters’ Association (RRPA) (Puttur) President Col N Sharath Bhandary said that to impress upon the government on the woes of the rubber growers, and to discuss and suitably mitigate rubber growers’ woes, a conference of rubber growers of Karnataka will be held at Jain Bhavan, Bye pass road in Puttur on September 5 at 10.30 am. An All Karnataka Rubber Planters’ Association  (KRUPA) will be formed at the meeting to bring together all the rubber growers under one platform. Through the association, all the benefits of the Rubber Board can reach the growers. Growers from Chikmagalur, Shimoga and other parts of the State will attend the meeting.

The current annual demand for natural rubber in the world is 11 million tonnes. This is estimated to cross 13 million tonnes by 2020. India is the fifth largest producer of the natural rubber, he added.

He said “through the KRUPA, we have plans to have our own marketing federation in the future, to avoid the influence of middlemen in selling the produce to the end user.”
He said that the government has sanctioned a fourth regional rubber board office for Shimoga.

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