Northeast could be largest rubber producing region

March 25th, 2008 - 11:19 am ICT by admin  

By Sujit Chakraborty
Agartala, March 25 (IANS) India’s northeast has the potential to transform itself into the world’s largest natural rubber producing region and the country’s second rubber-based industrial park is being set up in Tripura to boost the industry. “Future expansion and growth of natural rubber in India lies in the northeast, which is agro-climatically most suitable for rubber cultivation,” Sajen Peter, chairman of the Rubber Board of India, told IANS.

An estimated 60,000 hectares of land is now under rubber cultivation and in the next five years the area under the “liquid gold” cultivation would be doubled.

Peter said India, Thailand and Vietnam are among the largest natural rubber producing countries, and India tops the list in terms of productivity.

The Board is now celebrating the golden jubilee of rubber cultivation in India. Seminars, workshops and numerous other programmes are being held across the country.

Small growers in the past 50 years have contributed to an overall production of 852,895 tonnes.

“The annual productivity has increased from only 333 kg to 1,879 kg per hectare, which is the highest productivity in the world,” the Rubber Board chief said while addressing a seminar here.

The union cabinet earlier approved a Rs.4.13 billion scheme for re-plantation and fresh cultivation of rubber in the non-traditional areas, mainly in the northeastern states.

An assessment made by the Rubber Board indicates that rubber could be cultivated in about 450,000 hectares in the seven northeastern states, mostly in Tripura, Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.

Tripura is the second largest rubber producer in the country after Kerala with 40,000 hectares of land so far brought under rubber cultivation.

According to the Rubber Board and the National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning, an area of 100,000 hectares is suitable for rubber plantations in Tripura.

To boost the industry, India’s second rubber-based industrial park is being set up in Tripura to bring about a natural revolution in the elastic polymer industry.

The rubber park, a joint venture between the Tripura Industrial Development Corporation (TIDC) and the Rubber Board, is the second of its kind in the country after the rubber park at Irapuram in Kerala, where over 520,000 hectares are now under cultivation.

Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (ILFS) is the project management agency of the park, where at least 20 rubber-based industrial projects would be set up within the next three years.

“The rubber park is to be built in an area of 50 acres of land in the Bodhjunjnagar industrial growth centre in western Tripura and over Rs.500 million are expected to be invested in the park over a period of three years,” said Pabitra Kar, chairman of the TIDC.

Kar, a rubber garden owner, demanded further strengthening of the official machinery of the Rubber Board in the northeast region.

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