Tripura has the second-largest area under rubber cultivation in the country
The Rubber Board has firmed up plans to produce quality rubber sheets in Tripura to ensure maximum value addition to the product.
Deputy Commissioner of the Rubber Board Agartala, Dilip Kumar Das told the media that the new strategy has been planned for the welfare of rubber growers. He added that only 20 per cent scarp rubber was sent outside the state which has increased substantially due to value addition.
Natural rubber production in Tripura has increased from 46,815 MT in the 2014-15 to 65,330 MT in 2017-18 though the area under cultivation has not expanded much during the period. It is estimated that around 4,000 hectares have been brought under rubber cultivation during the past four years. At the same time, the Rubber Board has been able to meet its targets of quality improvement and value addition to scrap rubber or latex by imparting training to rubber growers and tappers.
After Kerala where around 550,000 hectares have been brought under rubber cultivation, Tripura has the second-largest area under rubber cultivation in the country. The Deputy Commissioner said the state has been producing quality rubber sheets like RSS-5/4 and efforts are on to produce graded rubber sheets like RSS-3/4 in order to get better prices. He explained that the Rubber Board has set a target of producing 60 per cent graded rubber sheets of the total production in the next two or three years. Das made a case for setting up small scale industrial units which could be a game changer in Tripura’s economy, instead of opting for large rubber-based industries. He cited the example of a tyre manufacturing unit which may not be economically viable here because it requires only 20 per cent raw rubber while the remaining ingredients, mostly chemicals, would have to import from outside the state. The official also dismissed reports of a sharp decline in rubber prices and said that growers were getting a good price by selling rubber at Rs 110-120 per kg. It was during the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) that the Rubber Board had decided to double the existing natural rubber cultivation areas in the Northeast. Currently, natural rubber is being cultivated in 113,685 hectares in the region, including 61,000 hectares in Tripura and 36,000 hectares in Assam.
According to an earlier assessment of the Rubber Board, about 450,000 hectares may be available in the states of Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland. The region has extensive areas that are agro-climatically suitable for natural rubber cultivation.
India is now ranked first in rubber productivity (1,841 kg per hectare), second in consumption (971,000 tonnes per year), fourth in production (912,000 tonnes in 2012-13) and sixth in terms of area (0.79 million hectares) of rubber cultivation in the world.
It is estimated that the total cultivation area would rise to 986,000 hectares and production and consumption would go up to 1,583,000 tonnes and 1,731,000 tonnes respectively by 2024-25. In India, rubber is traditionally grown mostly in Kerala and Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu. The non-traditional lands are found in Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, Western Ghats, and to a smaller extent, along the Eastern Ghats in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
In Tripura, the Rubber Board has also been focusing on providing adequate marketing linkage to the growers and small entrepreneurs to sell their products without facing any hardship.
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