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Kerala mulls rubber procurement

Kerala mulls rubber procurement

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala plans to procure rubber from the open market to meet the demand from its production units, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy informed the state assembly Tuesday.

Responding to a calling attention motion, Chandy told the assembly that fall in rubber price is on account of the price of natural rubber dropping sharply in the international market.

"The centre had agreed to our request to levy a charge on rubber imports but with prices dropping like never before that also has not yielded results," said Chandy.

Price of natural rubber is experiencing a free fall in international markets. India stands fourth in the production of natural rubber and Kerala accounts for 90 percent of the country's rubber production.

Chandy pointed out that the union commerce ministry has a price stabilisation fund and the state has sought Rs.100 crore for rubber procurement.

"We are seriously considering how rubber procurement can be effected," he said.

Earlier, moving the calling attention motion, CPI-M legislator Raju Abraham blamed the state government's callous attitude on the serious issue.

"Rubber price in 2011 was Rs.248 per kg and it fell drastically... In 2012, it was Rs.200, in 2013, Rs.150 and now it stands at Rs.135. The lives of five million families have been affected as almost 40 percent of them are dependent on income from rubber. The state government did nothing and finally when the centre decided to levy an import duty, it was too late as international prices were dropping at a very fast pace," said Abraham.

Abraham also claimed that the biggest beneficiaries have been the tyre companies in the country.

"In 2011, when the price of rubber was Rs.248 per kg, a truck tyre was priced at Rs.17,000 and today when the price is Rs.135, the same truck tyre is costing Rs.23,000... The loss suffered by our rubber farmers after this government came stands close to Rs.10,000 crore," added Abraham.

In Kerala, 70 percent of the rubber farmers own less than a hectare of land and earnings from rubber production, after the diaspora remittances, are the biggest succour to the 3.30 crore state population.

With prices dropping and the weather also turning unfavourable for rubber, 60 percent of the farmers have stopped rubber tapping.

Another reason that has hit the farmers badly is the price hike in fertilizer and chemicals and also the tapping charges, which is around Rs.2 per tree.

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