Kottayam: The Rubber Board will soon announce an incentive scheme for farmers to encourage planting and replanting, said Mr K.N.Raghavan, executive director, Rubber Board.
The board plans to raise the domestic production of rubber to the maximum capacity of nine lakh tonnes, Mr Raghavan told mediapersons here on Tuesday. The current drop in the price of natural rubber should be regarded as an opportunity to expand cultivation to even nob-traditional areas and raise the overall production levels, he said. “This should be implemented by working out a new and improved incentive scheme, without which new farmers will not go for rubber farming. For this, a policy decision by the government is required and the Rubber Board will make suggestions to this effect after studies and consultations,” he said.
Noting that there is a huge gap between the total demand and domestic supply of rubber, he said that it was not good for both the farmers and domestic consumers to depend on such high volume of rubber imports in the long run. “It’s a catch-22 situation: when the domestic price increases, imports of cheap rubber will naturally rise, which in turn will lead to a fall in prices and a concurrent drop in production levels. This cycle should be broken at some point and a strategy for stabilising the prices has to be worked out,” he explained.
Allaying fears over a drastic fall in natural rubber prices, Mr. Raghavan held that the biggest challenge before the Rubber Board for the time being was to insulate the small- scale farmers from such sudden fluctuations. “Given the significance of rubber as a raw material for several sectors, including defence and space research, there is no need for concern over the crop’s relevance in the long run. The concern, however, should be on protecting the small cultivators, who constitute over 90 percent of the total production, and they stand vulnerable to variations even in the short run,’’ he observed.
To queries regarding the recent closure of several field offices under the institution, he said it was part of streamlining and denied plans by the union government to move the Rubber Board out of Kerala....