Kerala-like package to bail out rubber growers

Karnataka Agriculture Price Commission Chairman Dr T N Prakash Kammaradi said he would recommend the State government to provide the Kerala model of package for rubber growers who are facing a crisis following the steep fall in the price of rubber.

Speaking at a meeting convened to discuss the problems of rubber growers with the Rubber Board officials, the Horticulture and Agriculture Department officials here on Monday, he said a detailed report on strengthening the Rubber Board, checking the expansion of area under rubber cultivaton, minimum support price and package for rubber growers would be submitted to the government.

A Rubber Board official said the Kerala government has announced Rubber Production Incentive Scheme (RPIS) and Rs 150 as reference price for rubber.The Kerala government has allotted Rs 300 crore in the budget for disbursement of subsidies.

Accordingly, the difference between the market support price and the daily
reference price, approved by the Rubber Board, would be credited to the bank accounts of the growers or rubber producer society, the official added.

Kammaradi said, “Rubber does not come under the perview of Agriculture Price Commission. However, the commission is looking to find alternative ways in the interest of a large number of growers who are in distress in Karnataka. There is a need to conduct a study on decreasing the cost of production. The possibility of mixed cropping along with rubber to increase the income of the growers should also be looked into.”

The representatives of Karnataka Rubber Planters’ Association and other rubber growers’ associations said the cost of production per one kg of rubber is Rs 127 during the current year. However, the growers are fetching only Rs 94 per kg in the market and as a result, they are incurring loss. In Kerala, the government has announced subsidy for the growers. A similar model should be emulated in Karnataka to protect the rubber growers, they said.

In response, Horticulture Department Deputy Director Yogish H R said the State government has already constituted a committee to study the package announced by the Kerala government for the rubber growers following an appeal by the rubber
growers.

Accordingly, the deputy directors of Horticulture from Dakshina Kannada and Shivamogga districts would conduct a study and submit a report to the government at the earliest, he added.

The rubber growers demanded, “The import duty on latex has been increased to 70 per cent while the import duty of rubber sheets is 25 per cent. The country is facing a shortage of 50,000 tonnes of rubber and hence, permission has been given to import 4.5 lakh tonnes.

“This has resulted in a steep fall in the price of rubber. The import duty for rubber sheets should be increased to 70 per cent.”

Kammaradi also suggested the Rubber Board and the rubber growers’ associations to conduct a workshop to deliberate on the need for expansion of area under rubber cultivation at the earliest.

Deputy Commissioner A B Ibrahim and Additional Deputy Commissioner Kumar were present.

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