GUWAHATI: To promote the development of the natural rubber industry in the Northeast, the officials of the Rubber Board, along with the industry body ATMA (Automotive Tyre Manufacturers' Association) organized a media round table meeting in Guwahati on Thursday.
The event was attended by Dr KN Raghavan, Executive Director, Rubber Board and Satish Sharma, Chairman of ATMA and president (Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa), Apollo Tyres Ltd and media persons from various organizations.
Addressing the media meet held in Taj Vivanta, Dr KN Raghavan, Executive Director, Rubber Board, said that Rubber Board with financial help from ATMA is implementing a project for developing 200,000 hectares of rubber plantations in the north-eastern states and West Bengal over five years. He added that Rubber Board is taking initiatives in setting up nurseries within the jurisdiction of its field offices in the Northeast, and it has 50 field offices in various parts of the Northeast. Under these field offices nurseries will be run by rubber farmers, he said.
The board will provide financial support, and seeds and each nursery can produce 80,000 to 1 lakh saplings, he added.
Satish Sharma, Chairman of ATMA, said that the northeastern region holds immense potential for rubber plantation given the availability of land and suitable agro-climatic conditions. The natural rubber demand-supply gap has been widening in India so ATMA in collaboration with the Rubber Board working for the production of Natural Rubber in the Northeast, he added.
For the development of natural rubber plantations, the project activities are being undertaken in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and West Bengal. At present NE states account for 18% of the production. Tripura is the 2nd largest producer of NR in the country and accounts for 58% of the total rubber produced in the NE region. Once the objective of developing plantations in an additional 2 lakh ha under the project is achieved, it is estimated that the sharing pattern will change drastically and the share of NE states will increase to 32% of production.
The production of natural rubber in 2021-22 was 7,75,000 metric tonnes (MT) whereas the consumption was 12,38,000 MT. Therefore, nearly 40% of the natural rubber requirement is met through imports and the NR demand-supply gap continues to be high since 2012-13 (refer to image 1). Out of this, about 73% of the consumption is in the automotive tyre sector with a steady increase in the last two decades.