The United Planters’ Association of Southern India (UPASI) and the Association of Planters of Kerala (APK) have raised concerns on the Rubber Board’s move to encourage block rubber production in the country as it will make farmers dependent on the block rubber processing factories.
“The proposed shift in processing will fetch the farmers lower price compared to the sheet rubber and it will also make them dependent on the block rubber processing factories. It may be noted that the RSS grade rubber can be produced at the backyard of the farmers and they can hold the stock till the prices are at acceptable level.
At present, a farmer is receiving more than 90% of the price as his farm gate price, “C Vinayaraghvan, chairman of APK said. This initiative by the Rubber Board will only incapacitate the farmer of the price leveraging freedom he had enjoyed so far, he added.
India is the world’s second-biggest consumer of the commodity and the world’s fifthbiggest producer. India produced 655,000 tonne of NR in the 2014-15 crop year. In India NR is sold mostly as sheets and classified as ribbed smoked sheets (RSS) depending on quality.
Natural rubber (NR) processed into blocks adopting a new processing techniques with technical specifications is known as block rubber or Indian Standard Natural Rubber (ISNR).
UPASI reports that persuading and encouraging the Indian rubber farmer to produce cup lump for block rubber is a retrograde step and would weaken him further.
“Conversion to block rubber entails considerable investment in plant and machinery and entails high conversion cost benefitting only the processors margin.
The South East Asian farmers are forced to produce Technically Specified Rubber (TSR) in the absence of a vibrant domestic market and suffers economically on account of this despite heavy subsidies from the government ,” N Dharmaraj, president of UPASI, said.
The block rubber production is high in power consumption and the cost of effluent treatment is also higher. The Association feels that, all such costs will be reduced from the ISNR prices and the balance will be transferred to the farmer.
“The block rubber manufactured from latex is generally graded as ISNR 5, which is equivalent to RSS 1 of sheet rubber. If we compare the technical specifications of the sheet rubber and the block rubber, the former is always better in all quality parameters than the latter.
That is the main reason for the better price realized by the sheet rubber both internationally and domestically compared to block rubber,” Vinayaraghvan said.