Kerala rubber farmers tapping Northeast opportunities

Price hike fails to bring cheers.
Last Updated : 27 June 2024, 13:13 IST

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Thiruvananthapuram: Even as the domestic price of natural rubber is escalating, planters in Kerala are unable to tap the opportunity owing to the scarcity of rubber as tapping has been affected by the climate changes. 

Meanwhile, many rubber farmers from Kerala are now trying to tap the opportunities in Northeast states where tyre producers are initiating rubber production on a large scale.

While 92 per cent of India's rubber production was from Kerala in 1998, now it has come down to nearly 70 per cent and could fall further once production begins in the Northeast states, industry sources say.

Owing to various factors like fall in production in countries like Thailand and problems in the Red Sea, the domestic price of rubber has crossed the international price. While the domestic price has reached around Rs. 205 per kilogram, the international price is around Rs. 180 only.

However, the rubber planters are unable to make much financial gain out of it as the production is low in Kerala over the last few months owing to the acute summer and the heavy rains that immediately followed. The unavailability of stock is also a reason for the hike in domestic price.

National Consortium of Rubber Producer Societies general secretary Babu Joseph said that after January-February tapping was badly affected owing to the acute summer and the rains that immediately followed. Hence rain guarding could not be done. If the price hike sustains for a couple of months and the climate becomes favourable the  planters could get the financial benefit.

Meanwhile, many rubber farmers, especially those involved in the rubber nursery business, are now shifting to Northeast states. The Automotive Tyre Manufacturers' Association (ATMA) has been supporting massive rubber production in around two lakh hectares in Northeastern states.

"At least 20 farmers from Kerala have already started nurseries in Northeastern states. They are not getting directly involved in cultivation owing to reasons like security concerns," said Joseph.

He said that the Kerala share in India's rubber production that already fell from 92 percent in 1998 to around 70 percent now, could fall further once tapping begins in Northeast states. It could also hit the prices.

Rubber Board chairman Dr Sawar Dhanania said that the board would be promoting rubber cultivation at all places where land is available. Hence it is supporting the effort for rubber cultivation in Northeast states. Naturally, rubber farmers from Kerala, who are experts in the field, will tap the opportunity there too. Already many from Kerala are setting up nurseries and latex processing units, he said.

Published 27 June 2024, 13:13 IST

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