The expert panel has members drawn from relevant ministries, rubber board, industry, growers, processors and research bodies, drawing one of the widest selection of all stakeholders. The panel will be "serviced" by the rubber board of India so that it can make recommendations for a broad based policy relating to all types of rubber, including natural rubber (NR), synthetic rubber (SR) and reclaimed rubber (RR).
With rubber price dipping, growers are perked up by the beginnings for a new wholesome policy initiative. "Rubber farmers are always game for the formulation of a policy which guarantees stable, sound and sustainable growth in NR incomes. As a crop with a six-year gestation cycle and 30-year life cycle, rubber has unique dynamics that need effective matching with the market externalities. Our expectations are that the new panel will engage these concerns of the small-holding farmer with sensitivity," Sibi Monipally, general secretary, IRGA ( Indian Rubber Growers Association) told FE.
At the same time, the rubber growers were,in the beginning apprehensive about the move for new policy. The formation of the expert committee was more or less the result of the outcry from rubber industry bodies for a comprehensive policy. The Automative Tyre Manufacturers' Association (ATMA) and All India Rubber Industries Association (AIRIA) had been rallying for a rubber policy in the model of the auto sector policy and this demand was taken forward by the Rubber Board, said Sheela Thomas, its chairman.
JS Deepak, who was earlier additonal secretary (plantations), had assured that the terms of reference will not focus on NR alone as earlier planned and will study the issues in synthetic and reclaimed rubber too. Rubber and tyre manufacturing have been gradually shifting to Asia. Although, India enjoys an advantage both in natural rubber plantations and rubber and tyre manufacturing, the country's potential in the sector has not been fully harnessed.