Natural rubber cultivation is in challenging period, says Piyush Goyal
Natural rubber cultivation in India is passing through a challenging phase on account of prolonged period of low prices and the domestic production not being able to meet the demands of consuming industry, said Piyush Goyal, Union Minister for Commerce and Industry.
He was delivering a message through Rubber Board Facebook Live, conducted in connection with the launching of the campaign (Campaign 2020) of the Board to promote self-tapping and low frequency tapping among rubber growers.
The challenge posed by the supply of natural rubber at low prices in the international market can be tackled only by improving the productivity within plantations and bringing down the cost of production, the Minister added.
The main challenge
The fall in price is the main challenge faced by the rubber growers, said V.S. Sunilkumar, Kerala Agriculture Minister. The rubber plantations in the country have a potential to produce about 10 lakh tonnes of rubber. However, the total production during the last fiscal was only 7.12 lakh tonnes. Owing to high production costs, low prices and non-availability of skilled labour about 24 per cent of the area is being kept untapped. To overcome this, small farmers should come forward to tap their trees themselves, he added.
Tapping charges constitute the largest single component, accounting for almost 60 per cent in harvesting cost of rubber. This high expenditure can be brought down by reducing the frequency of tapping (number of taps per week) and grower doing the tapping by himself, said KN Raghavan, Chairman and Executive Director, Rubber Board.
He also pointed out that adoption of LFT and self-tapping by small growers would also help utilise the services of professional rubber tappers more productively and optimally by channelising their services through Rubber Tapper’s banks. This would help bring in more untapped plantations under tapping as well, thus increasing the overall production of rubber within the country.