Growers seek support price for rubber

Urge govt to follow Kerala model; seek Rs 150 as minimum support price

The appeals by rubber growers to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and other people’s representatives for minimum support price have fallen on deaf ears, said Karnataka Rajya Rubber Belegarara Hitharakshana Vedike President Shridhar G Bhide.

Addressing mediapersons here on Wednesday, Bhide said the rubber growers have appealed to the chief minister to fix Rs 150 as the minimum support price (MSP) for rubber on the lines of Kerala government (the price of rubber at present is Rs 90 per kg).
He said the Kerala government has earmarked Rs 300 crore for rubber growers (under Rubber Growers Support Scheme) in the last fiscal.

Bhide said that the Union government has already reimbursed Rs 172 crore to the Kerala government. “On the other hand, the situation is pathetic in Karnataka as the Rubber Board has not been reconstituted from 2014 and there is no Rubber Production Commissioner too. At present, the Spice Board chairman has been given the additional charge,” he said.

Appealing the authorities to impose a total ban on rubber import, Bhide said in case if it is not possible to ban import of rubber, then the import tax should be raised to a minimum of 70 per cent, which is 25 per cent at present. He also said that the government should fix a minium support price and take steps to purchase the rubber produced by growers in Karnataka and also implement the National Rubber Policy which is a long pending demand of the rubber growers.

He also requested the authorities to ban foreign direct investment (FDI) in agriculture as it affects farmers with small land holdings. Referring to the government’s recent move on Kumki land (no rights on Kumki land), Bhide said a large number of rubber growers have been cultivating rubber on Kumki land and the government move would adversely affect the rubber growers in particular and farmers in general.

Rights assertion meet  
Seeking the fulfilment of various demands of the rubber growers and to draw the attention of the authorities, the Vedike, in association with Karnataka Rubber Planters’ Association (KRUPA) and Karnataka Syro Malabar Catholic Association among others, would hold a rights’ assertion meet in front of the deputy commissioner’s office in Mangaluru on January 18, Bhide said.

To a query, Vedike General Secretary Raju Shetty said that there are 55,000 registered rubber growers in Karnataka, especially in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Shivamogga, Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru and Uttara Kannada districts and rubber is grown in about 60,000 hectares of land in the State.

To another query, KRUPA President Col N S Bhandary (retd) said Karnataka has been producing more than 5 per cent of the total rubber production in the country and more than 5 lakh people are depending on rubber for their livelihood. The price of rubber was Rs 240 per kg in 2011-12 and at present, it has come down to Rs 90 per kg.

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