The Centre should set up a R1,000-crore price stabilisation fund for agricultural crops that are vulnerable to climatic and market vagaries, Kerala finance minister KM Mani has said. This should be put together urgently, in the wake of an inadequate monsoon slowly making its way through the Indian peninsula, he added.
"Rubber and coconut economies are looking forward to special schemes that revitalise the sector," said Mani, who presented his development wishlist not only at the meeting of state finance ministers at New Delhi, but also individually to the Union ministers for finance, commerce and environment.
Even as rubber imports are growing steadily, rubber growers are dismayed by the rapid downslide in prices. The trend in imports in 2013-2014 suggests they may exceed 3,24,586 tonne. In May alone, imports were about 33% more than those in the same period in the last year.
Apart from finance minister Arun Jaitley, Mani met commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman, seeking that import tariff of natural rubber be raised from 20% to 25%."Besides, the zero-duty import against advance import licences should be put on the freeze for at least a year, till the rubber economy in the country gets back on its feet," he said. According to Mani, the commerce ministry should jack up the rubber replanting subsidy to R40,000 per hectare.