September 21, 2017
Kottayam: India is slowly moving towards losing the leading natural rubber producing status as low prices have made farmers slowly give up cultivation of the cash crop.
Kerala is believed to be among the best of places for growing rubber giving high yield. This had made the British concentrate on rubber cultivation in Kottayam and neighbouring areas. The other regions are in the North East and Tamil Nadu has a small contribution through plantation in Kanyakumari district.
As it was found to be real money spinner people across the state took to rubber farming, albeit with poor yield and quality.
Things went well until a few years ago after which the price crashed from Rs 250 per kg to Rs 100.
The rubber manufacturers’ lobby prevailed and the Union Government made no intervention to protect farmers by restricting cheap import from Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia.
Besides, the fall in price of synthetic rubber owing to crash in global crude oil prices played spoilsport.
Now that big and small farmers are migrating to other crops like pepper, coconut and vegetables and even rumbuttan, the State Government has set up a committee to explore the possibility of starting a tyre factory and rubber-based units adding value to the product.
The committee headed by Chief Secretary KM Abraham has been asked to submit a report if such units can be set on the basis of public-private partnership Cochin International Airport Ltd or like Amul in Gujarat.
The committee should explore the participation of private parties in floating such units, a meeting chaired by the Chief Minister decided.