The price of sheet rubber was around Rs 135 per kg last week despite low availability—the tapping season in Kerala, the largest rubber producing state, has almost come to an end and it is expected to resume only when the southwest monsoon begins. “Many rubber growers were not tapping during January and February as they were yet to get arrears of state incentive scheme. Besides, the hot weather too affected productivity,” said Pius Scaria, former president of Indian Rubber Dealers Federation.
However, low availability did not drive up prices as demand was weak from the tyre industry, which is struggling to come to terms with overall decline in sales of automobiles, and the coronavirus outbreak in China which has led to temporary shutdown of factories in its manufacturing hubs. “The coronavirus in China seems to have affected the demand for sheet rubber. We were finding it difficult to market even the latex to north eastern states because of problems there,” said Scaria.
Santhosh Kumar, senior VP of Harrisons Malayalam, said, “The yield was lower as the defoliation of the rubber trees set in earlier this time. As a result, the crop was less than what was expected.”