Rubber Board executive director Dr KN Raghavan cautioned growers not to be too dazzled by the slight NR price surge in the end of the peak season of latex tapping.
Even as the Rubber Board rolled back its NR (natural rubber) production target for 2019-20 by a whopping 20,000 tonne, it has come out with a new hybrid rubber clone to pep up NR farming in non-traditional cultivation belt. Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) 429, the new hybrid clone, brought out specifically for the north-east, is touted as cold weather-proof and disease-resistant.
“Besides pushing up rubber production and productivity in future, the release of new hybrid clone RRII 429 would support the livelihood of tribals in the north-east,” says Rubber Board chairman Sawar Dhanania.
RRII has come up with the new hybrid clone, based on 23 years of multi-locational field trials in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and West Bengal. At present, rubber is cultivated on over 1,00,000 hectare in the north-east, comprising eight states. The north-east is a non-traditional area, since over 85% of country’s NR is produced in Kerala and parts of Tamil Nadu. Besides Assam and Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and the lower reaches of the hills in Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland have been found appropriate for rubber cultivation. Tripura is the second-largest rubber producer in India, with over 85,000 hectare under plantation, producing 74,000 tonne of NR annually. Tripura’s annual turnover from NR plantations is about Rs 700 crore. “In the north-eastern region, the biggest menace for rubber plantation is a fungal disease, powdery mildew, which trims the latex yield by 45%. The new hybrid clone is counted to withstand the fungus,” a senior Board official told FE.
Currently, two rubber clones are recommended for cultivation in the north-east region. These are RRIM 600, one of the early clones imported from Malaysia, and Indian clone RRII 208, released eight years ago. The shift to new hybrid clones is necessary as some rubber clones could become disease-vulnerable due to the vagaries of climate change.
Meanwhile, Rubber Board executive director Dr KN Raghavan cautioned growers not to be too dazzled by the slight NR price surge in the end of the peak season of latex tapping. “The trade impact of novel Corona virus in China and the Asian market impact of US-Iran conflict are yet to be clear. NR price may have linkages to all these and it would be best if the NR growers continue with the farm cost-cutting measures and focus on production enhancement,” Raghavan said, in the editorial to Board’s official journal Rubber.