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Rubber Board to conduct census on natural rubber plantations, prepare database

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on April 01, 2021

The Rubber Board plans to conduct a census on natural rubber plantations in the country in a phased manner that will help it prepare a database for rubber.

KN Raghavan, Executive Director, Rubber Board, said that the census aims to ascertain the actual area under rubber, the age profile of rubber trees, discarded area, level of adoption of new clones and the influence of improved clones in production and productivity etc. Generation of database and periodical updating is essential for the formulation of detailed mission mode schemes for improving NR production in the country as well, he said.

A pilot census work is scheduled to be conducted in the Kottayam and Kannur districts of Kerala and Tripura. The census in the rest of the districts in Kerala and other rubber-growing States would be completed in the next phases, he told BusinessLine.

The Indian rubber plantation sector, he said, is dominated by smallholders and accounts for 92 per cent of the production and 91 per cent of the planted area in the country. The sector has 1.32 million small rubber growers, and their planted area comes around 8.2 lakh hectares.

The Board plans to conduct the database generation of rubber holdings with the help of extension officers and the active participation of Rubber Producers’ Societies.

Section 10 of the Rubber Act 1947 stipulates that registration of rubber plantations was mandatory and the Board was able to maintain an elaborate database. After the discontinuation of mandatory registration under the Rubber Act, the Board resorted to structured statistical random sampling for the collection of data on production, productivity, mature and immature areas, clones planted and other factors. The accuracy of the data collected through random sampling has been challenged by farmers and consumers.

The rubber census focuses on the collection of details of rubber area including total planted area, immature area, mature area, tapping area, the number of trees, year of planting, clones, tapping system and the rain guarding status of the holdings. The census also collects the details of the tappers and the crop processing methods, he said.

One of the major challenges the Board now faces is the decline in replanting and new planting. The situation arose mainly because of price fall. The total new planting in 2015-16 was about 16,000 hectares, which is reduced to around 1000 hectares in 2020-21. When the replanting is reduced people tends to continue tapping the senile trees and the yield will become reduced. This will affect the total production, he added.

Published on April 01, 2021

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