Rubber production up 22%, belies growers’ claims

V. Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on January 11, 2018 Published on May 09, 2017

Facts, like rubber, can be stretched a fair bit, but when it is overdone, both facts and rubber tend to snap. The ongoing tug-of-war between natural rubber growers and consumers bears this out in ample measure.

The tussle relates to the state of rubber growers, and their claims that heightened imports have impacted domestic rubber production, which is contested by the tyre industry.

According to the latest data from the Rubber Board, natural rubber production actually increased in 2016-17 by 22 per cent over the previous year, Additionally, rubber imports declined by 7 per cent.

Rubber Board officials attributed the increased production to improved market price and the Board’s initiatives, including mass contact programmes to improve production and productivity.

The data effectively belies the rubber growers’ claims and validates the tyre industry’s diametrically opposite view.

With improving availability of natural rubber in the domestic market, there is a perceptible drop in rubber imports, says Satish Sharma, Chairman Automotive Tyre Manufacturers Association (ATMA).

“That lends credence to the tyre industry’s stand that natural rubber imports are only taking place to compensate for the domestic deficiency or in view of non-availability of certain grades of rubber on quality parameters,” he said.

ATMA also rebuts the claim that rubber imports are down because domestic prices are ruling lower than international prices.

Even when domestic prices were ruling 20 per cent higher than international prices, the domestic production was being fully consumed by the industry, with hardly any exports.

The tyre industry, Sharma said, is all for a vibrant domestic rubber sector and has demonstrated its commitment by aligning itself with the Rubber Board in measures to increase the productivity and quality of domestic rubber.

“All the stakeholders must chart out a strategy so that industry gets access to quality rubber at competitive prices while rubber growers get adequately compensated,” he said.

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Published on May 09, 2017
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