The Rubber Board expects production to exceed the targeted 6.54 lakh tonnes in 2016-17 on measures taken to boost productivity, improved prices and aided by the recent summer showers in several plantations.
Board officials told BusinessLine there has been a 17 per cent increase in production in the April 2016 to February 2017 period to 622,000 tonnes, against 529,000 tonnes in the previous year period.
The intermittent showers in March in some of the rubber growing areas is seen to help increase production and, this coupled with a relative improvement in price, would help achieve the target.
In the last few years production had been declining, owing to untapped holdings, climate change and shortage of tappers.
The officials said measures taken by the Board at the field level — including mass contact programmes to improve production and productivity — have helped change the trend.
Productivity has been varied across agro-climatic regions. Some growers have reported a 20-50 per cent production decline in February compared to the previous month. However, overall production may not be affected much as many growers have continued with tapping, thanks to high market prices in the recent period.
However, a severe summer this year may impact production, the officials said. The Board therefore advises farmers to go for major summer protection measures — such as mulching, shading, whitewashing and fire belts — at least by December every year.
Meanwhile, the Board, in collaboration with the Kerala’s government’s Kudumbasree Mission, has formed labour groups under rubber producers societies to address the labour shortage in the plantation sector.
The first of such groups — Haritha — has been formed in Ernakulam district.