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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Growers urge govt to hike import duty on natural rubber

Prices fall to Rs 120 a kg; tapping reduces by 30-40 pc in recent time

Members of the All Rubber Planters’ Association have expressed concern over the drastic reduction in the tapping activities, following a fall in the price of rubber.

Speaking to mediapersons on Wednesday, the association president Col N Sharath Bhandary said that tapping has come down by 30 to 40 per cent in recent times, and demanded that the government hike the import duty on natural rubber to protect the welfare of the domestic growers.

“Rubber prices have dropped to barely Rs 120 a kg. The Planters’ Association’s efforts to drive the market rate higher – with the help of the government – have failed. Rubber growers had a good time when prices had recorded Rs 220 a kg. There were times too, when growers failed to sell the stock, waiting further rise in prices,” he reminisced.

He said that the price of natural rubber has crashed in the international market primarily due to the downtrend in China’s economy and over-supply. “The tyre manufacturers in India too are importing rubber in large quantities. The cost of natural rubber (RSS1 and 4) in Bangkok market is Rs 90 a kg and Rs 88, respectively. The landing cost of a kg of rubber from Bangkok costs nearly Rs 115, after accounting for 25 per cent of import duty, insurance, and freight charges,” he explained.

Col Bhandary said that the crash in price had also discouraged re-plantation of rubber trees.

“There are reports from plantation areas that rubber growers are planning to shift to other crops that will prove more profitable. Some growers have stopped tapping too.

Some others are reluctant to continue tapping, as the returns are low – even as labour cost remains high. The input cost has surged, in contrast. As a result, the quantity of natural rubber production has dropped,” he explained.

The president added that the current annual demand for natural rubber in the world is 11 million tonnes, “This is expected to cross 13 million tonnes by 2020. India is the fifth largest producer of natural rubber, after Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia. India’s demand for natural rubber is about 10 lakh tonnes. Last year, the country produced 6.55 lakh tonnes of rubber,” he said.

Association secretary P Gopalakrishna Bhat said that according to an estimate, two lakh hectares of arable land was available for expansion of rubber cultivation in Karnataka.

Now, 50,000 growers have already ventured into rubber cultivation on an extent of nearly 50,000 hectares of land and are producing 40,000 tonnes of natural rubber annually. Though the area used for rubber cultivation is expanded by 2,000 hectares annually, the process of expansion has come to a standstill due to the slash in price in the last two years, he rued.

A seminar of rubber growers of Karnataka will be held at Jain Bhavan, Bypass Road, Puttur, on September 11 at 11 am, to discuss and mitigate the woes of rubber growers.

District In-charge Minister B Ramanath Rai will inaugurate the programme while Parliamentarian Nalin Kumar Kateel and Campco president Sathishchandra will be the chief guests.

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