The pre-Christmas price rally phenomenon in rubber, better known as Santa Claus rally, has given a much-needed touch of festivity to the domestic rubber price, sagging under the strain of slowdown in demand.
The pre-Christmas price rally phenomenon in rubber, better known as Santa Claus rally, has given a much-needed touch of festivity to the domestic rubber price, sagging under the strain of slowdown in demand. From Rs. 126 per kg in mid-November, the domestic price of the premium grade RSS-4 sheet, used in tyre production, has inched up a tad, to Rs. 132 per kg in mid-December.
“At least one-third of the rubber plantations in the country’s major rubber-producing state Kerala, has been remaining unharvested, in the apprehension that tapping is non-viable,” Sibi Monipally, secretary, Indian Rubber Growers’ Association (IRGA) told FE. “Price improvement is heartening. But, even the current price is hardly sufficient to make rubber farming attractive,” he said.
Secondly, rains in the peak tapping season, have not been kind to the plantations. Contrary to its usual evening rain pattern, North East Monsoon has been causing morning showers, hindering rubber tapping.
The glad news is that the pre-Christmas ferment in demand worldwide has triggered a slow improvement in domestic NR price, across a month. In November first week, following the outbreak of Pestalotiopsis disease in the rubber plantations in major NR producing countries like Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, domestic price of rubber in India had moved by 7% to Rs. 111 per kg.
According to KN Raghavan, executive director, Rubber Board of India, the reason for the apparent fall in productivity of NR to 1,453 per hectare is that the harvestable plantations were left untapped.
In the December issue of Board’s monthly journal “Rubber”, he points out, that although 6.4 lakh hectare of rubber estates were harvestable, only 4.48 lakh hectare were harvested. “That 5.82 lakh tonne of NR was imported in the same period, is a matter of grave concern,” said Raghavan.
In the last fiscal, the country’s NR production was 6.51 lakh tonne and consumption was 12.12 lakh tonne. According to Rubber Board, NR production is up 11% year-on-year in the April to September period. At the same time, the Board has rolled back the production projection for the year by 3% at 7.3 lakh tonne.
As part of bringing the abandoned or untapped rubber estates to the productive stream, Rubber Board has initiated steps for Rubber co-operative societies adopting such plantations. However, these measures are too inadequate to make a critical difference in the farmer confidence. According to rubber growers , the silver lining has been the occasional highs, as the present demand surge in international rubber market.