Adding to the woes of rubber growers, the new year will not bring much hope to them as a considerable decline in their income is expected in the current fiscal, even if the product registers an increase in its price. According to experts, the income of an average farmer will go down at a considerable rate. “There are three major factors leading to this situation. The first one is the less number of tapping days during the season. The drop in production due to leaf fall disease and then the decline in prices. This would eventually result in decrease in the farmer’s income,” said George Valy, president of the Indian Rubber Dealers’ Federation (IRDF), an organisation to maintain status and interest of merchants trading in rubber. The income level is all set to plummet with domestic price around Rs 150 per kg of RSS-4 and less than 15 tapping days remaining in this season. In southern Kerala, the rubber belt of the state, most of the farmers choose alternate days for tapping and end by January, as the onslaught of summer commence. The Indian Rubber Growers’ Association (IRGA) has appealed to the government to increase import duty of natural rubber from `20 per kg to `34 per kg. “A suspension of import for six months is the only solution for the crisis,” said Siby J Monippally, IRGA president. He attributed the strong presence of Vietnam which sells natural rubber for less than $2 per kg for the decline. The price of natural rubber in the domestic market has dropped this year by nearly 24 per cent as it fell from `196 a kg on August 10 to Rs 150 on December 12. In April 2011, the price of natural rubber in the Kottayam market had gone as high as Rs 248 per kg.
P C GEORGE TARGETS CHIDAMBARAM
Kottayam: Government Chief Whip P C George unleashed blatant criticism on Finance Minister P Chidambaram citing that he alone was responsible for the fall in the price of rubber. “For merely 48 tyre industrialists, he has sabotaged the price of the rubber, which plunged from `250 to mere `140. Even while the rubber price has witnessed a steep fall this year, the price of tyres and rubber-based products are on an upward trajectory,” he said and added the state has incurred a cumulative loss of around `60,000 crore following the dip in the price of natural rubber.