AGARTALA: Amidst concerns over economy and growth, natural rubber production in India increased 9.4 per cent to 712,000 tonnes during 2019-20, crossing the 700,000 tonnes, first time in five years, according to an official document. Tripura is the second largest rubber producing State after Kerala, as per area under cultivation and quantity of produce. The State has got 85,000 hectare land area under rubber cultivation, out of which 65,000 hectare plantation area is currently mature for harvesting.
The Rubber Board has projected 710,000 tonnes natural rubber production in 2020-21, taking into consideration the crop loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The world production is projected to decline 2.2 per cent to 13.43 million tonnes.
According to the Rubber Board document, increase in production can be attributed to steps and programmes by the board at field levels with the active cooperation of rubber producers' societies.
The overall tapped area increased by 40,000 hectares in 2019-20, while the rain-guarded area was 250,000 hectares, up 40,000 hectare over previous year.
Rubber Board Executive Director KN Raghavan, who presented a report at the 180th board meeting conducted through video link from Kottayam (Kerala) on Thursday, said the production had crossed 700,000 tonnes after 2014-15.
Raghavan, a senior Indian Revenue Service officer, said consumption of natural rubber declined from 1.21 million tonnes in 2018-19 to 1.13 million tonnes in 2019-20 and the production-consumption gap reduced to 422,000 tonnes in last fiscal against 561,000 tonnes in 2018-19.
"Production of natural rubber for 2020-21 is projected at 710,000 tonnes taking into consideration the crop loss owing to Covid-19," the report, available with IANS, said.
Import of natural rubber declined 20 per cent in 2019-20 against the previous year and 70 per cent of the import was through duty-paid channel. Export increased from 4,551 tonnes in 2018-19 to 12,194 tonnes in 2019-20.
The International Rubber Study Group has projected the world production at 13.43 million tonnes (2.2 per cent decline) and consumption at 13.13 million tonnes (4.6 per cent fall) in 2020.
Raghavan elaborated upon steps taken by the board to mitigate distress of small growers due to Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. A proposal has been submitted to the Commerce Ministry to protect rubber growers from the price fluctuation through the minimum import price and restriction of imports with minimum price mechanism in the domestic market. (IANS)