Off-season woes hit rubber production

Written by M Sarita Varma | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: Mar 31 2011, 06:14am hrs
India may be a leader in natural rubber production, but the two-month long off-season has resulted in immense shrinkage in rubber production, if latest estimates put together by ANRPC (Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries) is anything to go by. The decline has been attributed to climatic factors.

Even when the Kuala Lampur-based global rubber organisation says that the world rubber supply growth would fall from 9.6% in January to 5.4% in March, it adds that this estimate has 'a downward risk'. One reason for this is the 'abnormally high day temperatures in Kerala, says Djoko S Damardjati, secretary general at ANRPC, in the latest bulletin of the association.

At present, Kerala accounts for about 89% of the total natural rubber produced in India.

All the top-four rubber producers (Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia) are impacted by the 'wintering season' in rubber plantations in March and April. World over, while the months of October and November see about 10-11% of total produce, in the March-April period, this is as low as 4.8-5.8%.

A close look at the off-season natural rubber production shrinkage in the top-four rubber-producing countries shows that the this fall in output is worst in India.

Natural rubber production in India in March and April is 5.6% and 6.4% of total annual production.

In 2010, the country's average yield (kg per hectare of tapped area) scored as high as 1,784, compared to just 1,211 in Thailand, the world's largest producer. In total, as far as rubber cultivation area is concerned, India ranks sixth. The present tightness in global rubber supply is likely to continue till April-end, according to the latest estimates.

Total production among ANRPC members is expected to reach 10.06 million tonne t in 2011. This is up 6.2% from 9.4 million tonne last year. The growth in supply in 2011 comes from the expansion in yielding area by an expected 2,03,000 hectare and increase in average yield by 43 kg per hectare.