India: Rubber growers plan to make value-added products

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KOCHI: growers in Kerala have decided to form a company to venture into manufacturing value-added products as demand has fallen for locally-produced . The proposed Integrated Farmers Producer Company, which is likely to open a factory at the park near Kochi by next year, will start by manufacturing for twowheelers and three-wheelers, according to people privy to the plans.

They said efforts will be made to mobilise 100 crore needed for the corporate venture from rubber farmers, with a minimum contribution of 10,000. Farmers will be the shareholders and a contribution of 1 lakh will ensure a voting right. “ is better to collect the amount through clusters of ten or more farmers. That way one of the members of the group can be assigned a voting right,’’ said Jacob Mathew, chairman of the working group.

Rubber growers themselves can provide a good market, said Mathew. “We plan to appoint professionals for marketing of products made under the venture. We plan to enter non- sectors as well,’’ he said.

Kerala requires around 10 million tyres annually and the company proposes to make 5,500 tyres a day, he said.

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Initially, around 50,000 farmers are proposed to be brought under the scheme, mostly from Kottayam and Ernakulam districts in Kerala, which accounts for nearly 80 per cent of the total rubber produced in the country.

The growers also hope to get support from about 1,200 rubber producers societies (RPS) spread across the state. “Each RPS may have 100-150 active members. It is easier to collect funds or distribute dividend through RPS. We have already called a meeting of the RPS in this region next week,’’ said Joy Antony, president of Pothanikad North RPS.

The objective behind the proposal is to boost consumption of the rubber produced locally, especially since prices have been keeping low in the past few years and a rally is unlikely in the current year.

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