KOCHI: The procurement of natural rubber by government agencies at a price `5 higher than the market rate is likely to become a flop with farmers pointing out that rubber cultivation will not be feasible for them even if the government procures rubber at a price higher than the market price. Farmers point out that rubber farmers’ woes will not come to an end unless a minimum price of `175 is available.
“The government is hyping that it was procuring rubber at a price higher than the market price. But in reality, the steps taken by the government are not sufficient to put an end to the crisis,” farmers point out. For instance, there will be 600 rubber trees in 2 blocks (300 each) in 1.20 hectares of land. Average total production in one block in a week is 49 kg. Maximum income (as per the present price) rubber and crape rubber – `5,831. Tapping charges for a week comes around `4,200, drying and smoking cost `392, transportation and other expenses `250. Total earnings `5,831 and expense is `5,092. It may be helpful for large estate owners, but certainly not for the medium and small-level farmers,” they added. “The Marketfed and Rubber Mark are given direction by the state government to procure natural rubber at a price `5 higher than the market price,” said Syro-Malabar Laity Commission secretary V C Sebastian who is also a rubber farmer. It is also pointed out that the price of rubber products has not come down, though the price of rubber has fallen. “The price of tyres went up when the price of rubber touched `240 earlier. Though the rubber price came down, the high price of rubber products remains the same. That means the price of rubber affects not only the farmers but also the other sections of society,” said a farmer in Kanjirappally.The Syro Malabar Church-led Indian Farmers Movement (INFARM) has decided to intensify the agitation seeking better price for natural rubber produced in India.
Leaders of the movement has submitted a memorandum to the Union Minister of Commerce, seeking to formulate a national policy for road rubberisation scheme at least for national highways to increase domestic consumption of natural rubber.
Thomas Kunnappally, former district panchayat president of Kottayam, pointed out that the government should arrange godown facility before starting procurement. “The agency which is entrusted with procurement should hold rubber to keep the price stable. For this, they have good storage facility,” he said.