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Kerala for producing more rubber modified bitumen

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 1 (IANS) The Kerala government has asked the Cochin Refinery to see that they produce more natural rubber modified bitumen (NRBM), Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said Wednesday.

NRBM is prepared by adding five per cent natural rubber latex to the bitumen. The price of one tonne NRBM is around Rs.55,000 while ordinary bitumen used for road surfacing comes to around Rs.39,000 per tonne.

“We have decided to ask the Cochin Refinery to supply more quantities of NRBM to the state-owned public works department. This is meant to bring succour to the rubber farmers who are reeling under falling price of rubber,” Chandy told reporters here.

Of the rubber production in the country, 90 percent comes from Kerala.

Till the prices had a free fall, rubber was the mainstay of many a household in the state. But now it is not, as costs have mounted and price of latex and rubber wood have all fallen to very low levels.

The situation is such that the price of rubber is having a free fall. Price of a kilogram of natural rubber was Rs.245 in 2011 while today it’s just Rs.115 and the cost of production has mounted.

“We get NRBM from Cochin Refinery but the quantity is low. We have asked them to increase this product considerably with immediate effect, so that our rubber farmers will benefit,” said Chandy.

In Kerala, 11.50 lakh farmers are into rubber cultivation on 6.59 lakh hectares. Of them, 10.20 lakh farmers are each practising rubber farming in less than 1.50 acres.

Rubber is the major source of income for many families living in the central districts of the state, where it is the most popular cash crop.

 – Indo Asian News Service

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