Natural rubber (NR) production fell by 3.4% during January to 56,000 tonne. At the same time, NR imports have surged 21% to 35,174 tonne. Production stood at 58,000 tonne and imports at 29,141 tonne in the same month last year, according to the Rubber Board data.
NR consumption collapsed to 82,000 tonne in January 2016 from 83,850 tonne in the same month last year.
In the first 10 months of the current financial year 2015-16, NR production fell by nearly 13% to 4,96,000 tonne as against 5,68,000 tonne in the corresponding period of the previous year. At the same time, consumption also fell by 3% to 8,21,910 tonne in the April-January period of this fiscal from 8,48,535 tonne in the year-ago period.
Imports also fell to 3,65,805 tonne in the first 10 months of this fiscal from 3,80,175 tonne in the corresponding period of the previous year. Last month, the Union government allowed import through only two sea ports of Chennai and Nhava Sheva to tightbelt inbound shipments.
According to a notification by Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), NR imports of all grades are allowed only through sea ports of Chennai and Nhava Sheva (Jawaharlal Nehru Port). Domestic producers have been raising grave concerns over rising imports and fall in local prices. The rubber belt has been seeing a slow migration of farmers from rubber to more remunerative crops like plantains, posing a threat to the century old rubber-plantation culture.
Meanwhile, spot rubber continued to rule firm. Tyre companies have been buying the premium grade RSS 4 at R97 per kg, trading sources told FE. However, this would not be enough to keep the future of rubber estates bright. The farmers have been seeking at least R200 per kg to achieve price realisation and sustenance of the crop.