Rubber cultivation to be pushed in the north-east

November 14th, 2009 - 4:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Agartala, Nov 14 (IANS) Area under rubber cultivation in the north-eastern region would be doubled to make India the number one natural rubber growing country in the world, rubber board chairman Sajen Peter said here Saturday.
Kottayam, Kerala-based Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) has identified 450,000 hectares as being suitable for rubber cultivation in the north-east region, he said.

“Future expansion and growth of natural rubber in India lies in the north-east, which is agro-climatically most suitable for rubber cultivation,” Peter told newsmen after the 161st meeting of the Rubber Board here.

An estimated 72,000 hectares are under rubber cultivation in the seven north-eastern states with Tripura accounting for 46,600 hectares and Assam for 19,000 hectares.

Tripura is the second largest rubber producer in the country after Kerala.

“When the seven north-eastern states are put together, only 20 percent of the potential area has been so far brought under natural rubber cultivation,” Peter said.

“In association with the DoNER (development of north-eastern region) ministry and state governments, more than 40 percent of the 450,000 hectares would be brought under rubber cultivation by the next 10 years,” he added.

“In order to increase the production of natural rubber, the Rubber Board has been developing region-specific varieties to match the agro-climatic condition of a particular region or area.”

According to Peter, from the 10th Five-Years Plan period (2002-07), the Rubber Board has been implementing an exclusive scheme in north-east India that includes providing subsidy to rubber growers and technical support to them.

To push cultivation in the region, an additional rubber production commissioner would be appointed exclusively for the region besides expanding other institutional infrastructure, he said.

“Since 2006, India has been in top position in productivity and Thailand comes second,” Peter said, adding that in terms of domestic consumption, India ranks third after China and the US.

However, he conceded, production was declining in India, saying: “In India, during April to October this year, production was 9.4 percent less.”

The Rubber Board chief also observed that import of tyres was a major concern for Indian natural rubber sector.

What was also worrying, he said, was that because of domestic prices ruling above international prices, India imported 126,470 tonnes natural rubber and exported only 2,639 tonnes during April to October this year.

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