Kochi: The import of natural rubber into the country is projected to reach an all-time high of 4.6 lakh tonnes contributing 46 per cent of the nearly one million tonnes of the domestic consumption of the commodity. The data from Rubber Board from 2011-12 shows that the domestic production is coming down regularly while the import moved up, Mr N. Dharmaraj, president of United Planters’ Association of Southern India, has said.
“In the current fiscal (2015-16), the production is expected to be 5.6 lakh tonnes as against last year’s 6.4 lakh tonnes while import is expected to touch 4.6 lakh tonnes against last year’s 4.4 lakh tonnes,” he said in a statement.
According to the provisional data from Rubber Board the domestic output in April-February 2015-16 is 533,000 tonnes compared with 610,000, down by 12.6 per cent a year ago.
Denying the claims by the tyre industry that growers are not producing the grade required by the industry Mr. Dharmarjan has said that “this is an incorrect assessment. ” Sheet rubber, which is produced by the smaller farmer, has superior quality attributes because of its high elastomer properties, he said.
Saying that the current downward trend in the prices had brought misery to the 1.2 million growers, Mr. Dharmarajan said growers were steadily abandoning tapping. Tapping area has come down to 56 per cent of the total area under rubber. “Strategically this portends trouble for Indian rubber industry,” he said.