Agri Business

Rains dampen Kerala’s rubber crop prospects

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on November 07, 2017

On a skid Rising production in other non- traditional rubber-growing areas — especially in the North-East and Karnataka — has impacted Kerala’s prospects. - K K Mustafah

Low prices, slack demand add to the woes of growers

Extended South-West monsoon and the early onset of the North-East monsoon in Kerala seem to have played the spoilsport for several rubber-growing areas as rain cut short the number of tapping days.

Coupled with these, low rubber prices in domestic and international markets and sluggish demand from tyre manufacturers have put the growers in a tight situation, said George Valy, President, Kottayam Rubber Dealers Federation.

“Even rain-guarded trees could not be tapped due to leakage,” he said, adding that the low price prevailing in the international market (at ₹105/kg) compared to the domestic price of ₹126/kg worsened the situation for farmers.

Arrivals dip

Arrivals have been low compared to last year. Flow of rubber to the market can be maintained only if there are 10-15 days of tapping in a month.

But this has not been the case in the recent period.

Moreover, plunging global prices have facilitated tyremakers to import around 45,000 tonnes/month.

Besides, production in other rubber-growing areas — especially in the North-East and Karnataka — has impacted Kerala market, as material from these States are making inroads in the North Indian markets due to low prices, he said.

Sibi Monippilli, General Secretary, Indian Rubber Growers Association, said that rubber cultivation has become un-remunerative and farmers are abstaining from tapping. There are hardly any takers for the stock available in the market.

He blamed what he termed the indifferent attitude of the Centre towards the sector for things getting worse. He said that proper and timely support from the government is critical for a crop like rubber, which requires extensive re-plantation.

Production up

Contrary to the claims by growers, Rubber Board data reveal a 5.2 per cent rise in production in September. However, the officials admitted that there has been a drop in tapping days in traditional growing areas.

Even though rains impacted tapping, several areas that were lying untapped during the last few years have come under tapping.

This may be the reason for the slight increase in production.

According to officials, the period between September and January is considered the peak production months both in India and other countries and the extension of rain would bring in more harvest to the market.

This would, in turn, ensure more availability of the commodity and may exert downward pressure on prices.

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Published on November 07, 2017
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