The enhancement of MSP for natural rubber in the Kerala budget has hardly brought any cheer to the farming community. Presenting the budget, Kerala Finance Minister K N Balagopal increased the MSP for natural rubber to ₹180 from the present ₹170.

George Valy, president of Indian Rubber Dealers Federation said the sector was expecting an MSP at ₹200 per kg and a meagre ₹10 increase would not benefit the farming community. For the time being, the state government would not have to pay the MSP as the domestic prices are likely to go up above ₹180 from the present ₹165 due to higher international prices. This will have a reflection in the domestic market as well, he said.

The production of natural rubber is lagging because of un-remunerative prices and unfavourable weather conditions and it is unlikely to touch the last year figure of 8,50,000 tonnes. The production is reported to be less than 7 lakh tonnes, he said.

P.C.Cyriac, former Rubber Board chairman said that it is actually the role of the central government in the case of natural rubber and the state government has limited role. The former Kerala Chief Minister, late Oommen Chandy had introduced a relief package for small scale rubber farmers at ₹150 and this figure has gone up to touch ₹180.

According to Cyriac, the problems in the natural rubber sector can be solved only by the Centre. The natural rubber production was nearly 10 lakh tonnes in 2013 and it dropped to five lakh in 2015, due to huge quantity of imported rubber. However, there were provisions in WTO agreement for the centre to levy higher import duties to curtail imports and regain the lost production. This would result in price increase and regain the lost production, he said.

P.Indira Devi, ICAR- Emeritus professor, Kerala Agricultural University said that the budget allocation for the agriculture sector in FY25 is ₹1,698 crore. The importance of agriculture sector needs to be properly acknowledged not only considering the food security dimension, but also with respect to the livelihood and ecological security. Recognizing the agricultural sector’s vulnerability to climate change, the decision to establish an Institute of Advanced Crop Breeding is commendable. The liberalized approach towards sandalwood cultivation is expected to serve as a driver for enhancing farmer income, she added.