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State seeks funds for rubber subsidy

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State seeks funds for rubber subsidy
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New Delhi: With rubber prices witnessing a steep fall internationally, hitting rubber growers hard in Kerala, the state government Monday approached the Centre seeking funds for providing assistance to affected farmers.

Kerala Finance Minister K M Mani, who met Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley here today, submitted a memorandum in which he said, the state government is launching a Price Support Subsidy Scheme for rubber farmers.

"Rubber farmers will be provided a subsidy that is the difference of the daily price published by the Rubber Board and the support price of Rs 150. The scheme is being implemented in collaboration with the Rubber Board of the Government of India. This will ensure that all small rubber growers get an assured price of Rs 150 for each kilogram produced by them," he said.

Noting that the state government intends to set up a fund not exceeding Rs 500 crore from its budgetary provision for the purpose, Mani however said that this amount will be sufficient only to extend support for purchase of 25 per cent of the rubber produced in the state.

This will be too inadequate to bolster the rubber plantation sector and provide meaningful assistance to the farmers, he said.

"I request the Government of India to extend a support of Rs 500 crore from the Price Stabilisation Fund to supplement the resources of the state," Mani said in the memorandum, adding that the assistance would provide relief to lakhs of rubber growers, who are living in distressed conditions now.

Mani also stated that the recent decision of the Centre to keep Kerala out of Rubber Subsidy Scheme has been a big blow to farmers in the state and demanded reconsideration of the decision.

He said the decision had come at a time when farmers were pressing for enhancement of rubber subsidy and were reeling under a sharp fall in rubber price from Rs 240 to Rs 120 per kg.

Mani further sought appointment of a full time Chairman for the Rubber Board at the earliest.

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