Vipin V. Nair

Kochi, April 28

THE country's natural rubber production in 2005-06 is expected to grow by four per cent to 7.80 lakh tonnes, according to estimates by Rubber Board.

The estimates by the Rubber Board show that production growth will be lower compared with the last two years. In 2003-04, rubber production surged by 9.6 per cent to 7.11 lakh tonnes, while in the last fiscal, production grew by 5.4 per cent.

The production of 7.50 lakh tonnes in 2004-05 was lower than the Board's earlier target of 7.60 lakh tonnes.

India is on top among natural rubber producing countries. In 2004-05, average yield per hectare was 1,705 kg, rising from 1,663 kg per hectare in 2003-04.

Consuming industries such as tyre makers are of the view that the estimates for 2005-06 could be realistic - the growth could even be higher - since the prevailing better price enthuses farmers to adopt better care of trees. Consumption will be 7.92 lakh tonnes, growing by 4.9 per cent over the previous fiscal

The industry projects an import of 60,000 tonnes natural rubber during the year.

In 2004-05, tyre companies and others imported 67,000 tonnes as against 44,199 tonnes in the previous fiscal. The attraction to import may be less in the current year with the introduction of four per cent value-added tax on rubber, in place of the 12.65 per cent purchase tax.

Exports of natural rubber in the current fiscal are projected to be down by 11 per cent, at 40,000 tonnes. Main reason for the fall in exports is the removal of export subsidies.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 29, 2005)
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