May , 2024
Efforts to boost rubber plantation in India to meet market demands
15:54 pm

Ankit Singh

With a surge in demand for natural rubber across India outpacing domestic production, stakeholders are stepping up efforts to bridge the gap. India boasts over 1.3 million rubber growers, primarily concentrated in Kerala, which contributes significantly to the nation's rubber output, reaching 8.39 lakh tonnes in FY23. However, the demand during the same period reached 13.5 lakh tonnes. The tire industry, which consumes around 70% of India's natural rubber, has witnessed rapid growth and is projected to expand further. Consequently, there's a concerted effort within the rubber industry to rejuvenate domestic production.

As part of this initiative, four members of the Automotive Tyre Manufacturers Association (ATMA), in collaboration with the Rubber Board, have devised a plan to establish an additional 200,000 hectares of new rubber plantations in Northeast India and West Bengal. Embracing the ethos of 'Atmanirbhar Bharat', the INROAD (Indian Natural Rubber Operations for Assisted Development) project aims to support the development of 200,000 hectares of rubber plantations in the Northeast, under the active guidance of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry. Notably, INROAD marks the world's first collaborative effort between the natural rubber-consuming industry (tire sector) and government agencies to finance the plantation of natural rubber (NR).

Over the past three years, nearly 70,000 hectares of land have been brought under natural rubber plantation through the INROAD project, marking one of the most significant new plantation endeavors in the Northeast over a three-year period. It is anticipated that the remaining areas will be converted for rubber cultivation within the next two years. Tripura emerges as the second-largest natural rubber-producing state in India after Kerala, boasting over 85,038 hectares of rubber plantations, yielding an annual output of 74,139 tonnes. Natural rubber cultivation spans 16 states in India, with Kerala leading with over 600,000 hectares, followed by Tripura with over 85,038 hectares under plantation. Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Assam, and other northeastern states also contribute significantly to natural rubber production.

To further bolster the rubber industry, the central government has augmented the allocation for the Sustainable Development of the Natural Rubber Sector scheme for the fiscal years 2024-26 by 23%, from Rs. 576.41 crore to Rs.708.69 crore. Amardeep Singh Bhatia, Additional Secretary in the Commerce Ministry, highlighted that these funds will support rubber plantation, generation of planting material, productivity enhancement, formation of rubber producer societies, and rubber research and training. The assistance rate has been raised to ` 40,000 per hectare from the previous Rs. 25,000 per hectare, aimed at covering increased production costs and providing additional incentives to growers. Under the scheme, 12,000 hectares will be dedicated to rubber planting in traditional areas during 2024-26, with an outlay of Rs.43.50 crore. Additionally, 3,752 hectares in non-traditional areas like Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and the northeastern states will be earmarked for rubber cultivation, with an outlay of Rs 18.76 crore during the same period. The scheme, administered by the Rubber Board, also allocates Rs.29 crore for rubber research over the next two years, focusing on developing rubber clones suitable for various agro-climatic regions to expand rubber cultivation to new areas. Sponsored nurseries will be encouraged in non-traditional areas to generate high-quality planting material, with assistance provided at  Rs.2,50,000 to 20 such nurseries.

Furthermore, the scheme promotes the formation of Rubber Producers Societies (RPS) among smallholders. Over the next two years, assistance will be extended for the establishment of around 250 new RPSs, alongside supporting the formation of another 1450 farmer clusters in non-traditional and northeastern regions. Equipment assistance will also be provided to producer organizations. Additionally, the establishment of three nodal centers of the National Institute of Rubber Training (NIRT) in the northeastern region, namely Agartala, Guwahati, and Nagaland, is proposed with an outlay of Rs. 5.25 crore over the next two years.

The Rubber Board will supply planting materials worth  Rs. 50,000 per hectare, supplementing the plantation efforts under the INROAD project in the Northeast. Moreover, NR growers in non-traditional regions will receive planting assistance at Rs 2,00,000 per hectare. 

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