Alarmed by a study that nearly half the rubber plantations in India are in low-yielding "aged" category, the tyre industry has sought quick policy prescriptions to incentivise replantation. FE had in April reported on the rise in the number of trees with sub-optimal latex production that prompted ATMA to go for an analysis. About 45% of plantations are in the low-yielding aged category, according to the time series analysis of age profile of rubber plantations from 2000 to 2012. Worse, one-fourth are in the "over-aged" category.
While Rajiv Budhraja, director general, ATMA, says the need for urgent replantation will be a special note in the next meeting of the national rubber policy working group, there is the question of how a farmer will be ready to cut the tree and jeopardise his income when price realisation is at a low. The period for a rubber sapling to start yielding is about seven years.
"The farmer has to take a call on optimising production and the onus is on the Rubber Board to incentivise him, he said.