Regional government ministers in India met with tyre makers on 18 December to discuss rubber prices. Chief minister of the state of Kerala, Oomen Chandy has chaired a meeting which proposed a minimum guaranteed price for rubber growers – a price of around Rs 125 to 130 (£1.25 to £1.30) per kilogramme was suggested. In recent times the price paid to Indian rubber growers has dipped as low as Rs 90 per kilogramme, a price considered unsustainable.
Meeting attendees included Raghupathi Singhania (JK Tyre), Ashwani Maheswari, (Birla Tyres), Anant Goenka (CEAT), K M Mammen, (MRF), Rajeev Anand (Goodyear India), Ajay Sevekari (Bridgestone India), P Vijayaraghavan, (TVS Srichakra) and Benoit Henry (Continental India).
These talks come at a time when the Indian Rubber Growers Association is beseeching state and national government to intervene with measures that give India’s growers the necessary incentive to continue tapping rubber. The IRGA has filed a petition with the Ministry of Finance’s Directorate General of Safeguards to obtain protection against rising levels of imported natural rubber. The association’s president, Sibi J Monippally, has also hit out at India’s tyre makers, accusing them of making large profits at rubber growers’ expense.
Consumption of natural rubber is on the way up in India. The Indian government’s Rubber Board reported that in November, consumption rose almost 12 per cent year-on-year to 85,000 tonnes. Import tonnage grew at an even faster rate, jumping 19 per cent year-on-year to 33,156 tonnes. Domestic production, on the other hand, fell by around a quarter, to 64,000 tonnes, as falling prices prompted some farmers to skip tapping.