Q1 NR output up 11% on weak monsoon

Written by M Sarita Varma | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: Jul 15 2014, 13:42pm hrs
Scanty monsoon has brought a much-awaited turn in the fortunes of India's rubber plantations. The production of natural rubber (NR) in the first quarter of the current financial year is up 11.3%, compared to the same period in the last financial year.

"This was mainly because of the phenomenal production in June," Sheela Thomas, chairman, Rubber Board, told FE. "In the previous two months, production was scanty and a matter of concern for policymakers. In April, the output had fallen by 3.8% and as much as 10.2% by May, compared to the corresponding months of 2013. If the monsoon had gained strength, tapping in June would have come to a standstill," Thomas said.

In 2013, rubber production in the first quarter was only 150,000 tonne. In 2014, this has grown to 1,67,000 tonne. Rubber Board sources say domestic rubber production in June was as high as 65.8%, compared to the June output in 2013. In July too, rain has been shying from the plantation belt.

The Board sticks to its estimate that the total stock in the country, as on June 30, 2014, is 207,000 tonne. This was 188,000 tonne in June 2013. At the same time, NR exports during June were nominal. The shipment was barely 60 tonne in June. This shows a fall of 94%, compared to the same period in 2013.

NR consumption has been escalating in the first quarter. In the April-June period, consumption clocked 251,000 tonne. In 2013, this was 246,015 tonne. In June, the automobile and tyre industry's appetite for rubber has taken consumption to 86,000 tonne. In 2013, this was only 81,710 tonne in June.

Meanwhile, the changing dynamics in domestic NR production are yet to reflect in rubber imports. In June, when domestic rubber production showed its highest growth, NR imports grew 42%. In the first quarter, NR imports surged by 65%, compared to the first quarter of 2013. In April-June 2014, rubber imports have touched 96,392 tonne. In 2013, in the corresponding period, only 58,345 tonneof NR had been brought in to the country. Neither export nor import of NR has been affected so far by the sudden jump in production at rubber plantations.