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Govt formulating policy to address issues of rubber industry


New Delhi:  Government is in the process of formulating a national rubber policy and an insurance-based scheme to address issues pertaining to the sector and boost the production of the plantation crop.

The Commerce Ministry has also started an exercise of resetting the goals and functions of the Rubber Board.

To formulate the National Rubber Policy, a committee consisting of experts and stakeholders has already been set up, a senior commerce ministry official said.

“The policy is being formulated to address demands of the rubber industry and growers. The committee is looking at all the issues concerning the sector and it would evolve a suitable regime for production, consumption, manufacture and imports of rubber in the short and long term,” the official added.

Further, an insurance-based scheme to operate the price stabilisation fund for the commodity has been prepared and submitted to the Finance Ministry for its approval.

The scheme is designed to cover losses to growers arising from fluctuations in yield and prices.

It would be implemented in cooperation with insurance companies.

To reset the goals and functions of the Rubber Board, the commerce ministry has consulted the stake holders.

“The ministry has identified the changes needed at the policy, institutional and organisational level. The work regarding this is on,” the official said.

The persistent fall in the price of natural rubber has caused concern among rubber farmers in Kerala, which accounts for more than 94 per cent of the commodity’s total production in the country. Farmers had also raised concerns over increasing rubber imports.

Last year India had imported over 3 lakh tonnes of rubber and this year, it is expected to touch about 4 lakh tonnes.

Rubber price, which ruled around Rs 220 per kg in January 2011, had touched a low of Rs 123 per kg in the domestic market.

The total area under rubber cultivation in Kerala is at 5.45 lakh hectares. It is the livelihood of as many as 11.50 lakh farmers with most of them small holders having less than 1.5 hectares under rubber.

Total rubber production in Kerala for the year 2012-13 stood at 8 lakh tonnes. India’s imports have reached 4 lakh tonnes annually.

Imports increased notwithstanding the Centre raising import duty on natural rubber to Rs 30 per kg or 20 per cent, whichever is lower, in December 2013.

Rubber growers have been demanding that the Centre take steps to get them fair price for their product.

They also want an increase in import duty of rubber.

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