New Delhi: An expert committee has been constituted by the Union Commerce Ministry to look into the issues of rubber sector such as production and imports.
The government is also in the process of formulating a National Policy for rubber sector to address issues of the industry and growers.
"The committee consists of experts and stakeholders. It will look into all issues concerning the sector and evolve a suitable regime for production, imports of rubber in the short term and long term," an official said.
The objectives of the policy would include supply and demand projection, address duty inversion and strike a balance between interest of growers and industry.
With rise in demand for rubber from the auto sector, the need for a national policy was felt as at present the concerns of the rubber sector are being handled by two-three departments under various ministries.
Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had expressed concerns over increasing rubber imports into the country. She had said that small growers in states like Kerala are getting affected due to decline in prices.
Total area under rubber cultivation in Kerala is at 5.45 lakh hectares. It is the livelihood of as many as 11.50 lakh farmers with most of them small holders having less than 1.5 hectares under rubber. Total rubber production in Kerala for the year 2012-13 stood at 8 lakh tonne.
Last year India imported over 3 lakh tonnes of rubber and this year, imports are expected to touch about 4 lakh tonnes.
Imports increased notwithstanding the Centre raising import duty on natural rubber to Rs 30 per kg or 20 per cent, whichever is lower, in December last year.
Rubber growers have been demanding that the Centre take steps to get them fair price for their product. They also want an increase in import duty of rubber.