Thiruvananthapuram: The persistent fall in the price of natural rubber has caused concern among rubber farmers in Kerala, which accounts for more than 94 per cent of the commodity’s total production in the country.
Rubber price, which ruled around Rs 220 per kg in January 2011, has now touched a low of Rs 123 per kg in the domestic market due to lower demand for the commodity in the wake of general economic slowdown and lower price in international market.
Stakeholders in the industry have sought the Centre and state government’s immediate intervention to arrest further fall in the price of rubber.
The continuing slowdown in demand from the domestic tyre industry, which consumes over 50 per cent of the total natural rubber production in the country coupled with a bearish trend in overseas market, is adding to the pressure on prices, according to rubber experts.
With prices becoming unremunerative in the face of rising cost of production, mainly because of high wages of tappers and rising cost of fertilisers, growers have also started staying away from production.
The state government’s scheme of rubber procurement at a higher rate than the daily market price also didn’t take place as envisaged, pushing farmers further into trouble, feel experts.
However, they pointed out that price would not fall further as off-season for rubber production starts from February. There is also concern among the tyre industry that if price falls further, rubber growers might move away from its cultivation which would result in shortfall in supply in the long-run.
“We want rubber farmers to start tapping and produce rubber and bring it to market, and government also should ensure a remunerative price for their product,” Indian Rubber Dealers Association president George Valy told here.
The total area under rubber cultivation in Kerala is 5.45 lakh hectares.
It is the livelihood of as many as 11.50 lakh farmers and most of them are small holders having less than 1.5 hectares under rubber. Total rubber production in Kerala for the year 2012-13 was eight lakh tonne.
– India Times