Stakeholders, including rubber growers, have urged the Centre that natural rubber should get “the agricultural product” cover instead of the industrial product tag that it currently has. They also said this would ensure the much-needed crop protection from the Union agriculture ministry. Currently, rubber, as “industrial product”, comes under the Union commerce ministry.
To increase the country’s lagging rubber output, it has also suggested that rubber production incentivisation scheme in Kerala should be implemented in other rubber-cultivated areas like Northeastern states, with Central participation. As much 85% of the country’s rubber, currently comes from Kerala.
It is among the key input for the Report of Taskforce on rubber sector that the Kerala government had supported from proposals from farmer organisations, state agriculture minister VS Sunil Kumar told FE. Centre had assigned the Taskforce to study issues, like price fall in the sector, and moot solutions.
“After including rubber in the agricultural products category, it should also be included in the Centre’s MSP (minimum support price) scheme for special crops,” Sunil Kumar said.
The country’s NR production had fallen to a six-year low of 1.26 tonnes in the first quarter of 2018-19. According to rubber board data, NR output fell 12%, while consumption surged 14%.
According to Sibi Monipally, secretary, Indian Rubber Growers Association (IRGA), the other proposals that the farmers have made for the draft national rubber policy are that fresh planting and replanting should get adequate budgetary share and subsidy, a subsidy of Rs 1.5 lakh per hectare for traditional areas and Rs 1.75 lakh per hectare for non-traditional areas, reliable data on NR production, and export and import should be available, well in time.
The other two proposals suggested are to keep the current import curbs, (25% import tariff or `30, whichever is less) unchanged and encouragement for road rubberisation with sops.