Even as rubber growers raise apprehensions over uncertainty in policy support, Rubber Board has made it clear that the merger of its regional office in Kottayam with that in Changanassery was just a part of the cost reduction plans. The Board has come out with a statement assuring that this move “will not, by any way, affect the services rendered to rubber growers.”
The Rubber Board statement calls it “a part of austerity measures”. Where the farmers have raised apprehensions that the regional centre was “closed”, the Board insists that it was only “merged” with the Changanassery office. Earlier, two regional offices, the ones in Kothamangalam and Ernakulam, were merged with the Muvattupuzha centre.
A ‘Development Office’ will start functioning at Board’s head office at Kottayam to take care of the services rendered to rubber growers of the region. The Development Office will start functioning simultaneously as and when the merging of the office comes into effect. Growers can contact the Development Office for all services including uploading of bills related to Kerala government’s Rubber Production Incentive Scheme (RPIS), an official statement said. In the current scenario where price of rubber is low, the Board has been implementing several activities aimed at reducing cost of cultivation and increasing production and productivity of rubber, it added.
“The Board is promoting Controlled Upward Tapping, quality upgradation, inter-cropping, soil and leaf analysis based fertiliser application, soil conservation measures and online fertiliser recommendation,” the statement said. As part of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), as many as 10,000 rubber tappers were trained under rubber tapper skill development programme, to address the shortage of skilled rubber plantation labour.
In the second phase of the programme, 22,000 persons will be re-skilled in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and North-Eastern states of Tripura and Assam. The Rubber Board proposes to start 50 tapper banks in the rubber sector. According to the statement, rubber production has increased by 23% during 2016-17 as compared to the previous year, following thrust on productivity in the earlier months.