Rubber Cultivation in India

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    Syllabus: GS3/Agriculture

    Context

    • The Rubber Board is implementing a project to expand the area under natural rubber in the Northeastern States.

    Rubber Board

    • It is a statutory body constituted under the Rubber Act 1947, for the overall development of the rubber industry in the country.
      • The Rubber Production and Marketing (Amendment) Act, 1954, amended the name of the Board as ‘The Rubber Board’.
    • It functions under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry of the Government of India.
    • The Board’s headquarters is located at Kottayam in Kerala.
    • As per Section 4(3) of the Rubber Act 1947, the Board shall consist of a Chairman and other members.
    About Natural Rubber

    – It is the most versatile industrial raw material of plant origin. Latex, the economic produce is harvested by controlled wounding (termed as tapping) on the bark of the tree.
    Origin: The Hevea brasiliensis is the main source of natural rubber, native to the Amazon river basin, and was introduced to tropical Asia and Africa by the British Government in the late 19th century.
    Agro-climatic conditions: The rubber tree grows in a wide range of agro climates and soil conditions, if well-distributed rainfall of about 200 cm is received annually.

    Rubber Producing Regions in India

    – In India, 8.5 lakh hectares under rubber cultivation, and almost 5 lakh hectares was in Kerala and Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu and 1 lakh hectares was in Tripura.
    1. The northeastern states, particularly Tripura and Assam, account for over 16% of the total production.
    2. The share of Kerala has come down from around 90% to 78%. The non-traditional regions of Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra have a combined share of 6% in the total output.

    Three Zones of Rubber Cultivation:

    Traditional region comprising Kerala state and Kanyakumari District of Tamil Nadu;
    Non-traditional region comprising all states other than Kerala state and Kanyakumari District of Tamil Nadu and North East region; and
    Northeastern region comprising Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.
    1. The potential in northeastern States was for 4 lakh hectares. Considering challenges such as landslides, it was decided to plant rubber on 2 lakh hectares.

    Properties and Usage:

    Latex contains up to 40% natural rubber, the rest being water and other constituents, showing the visco-elastic properties.
    1. When Natural rubber combines with sulphur, (known as vulcanisation) it is converted into elastic having very high tensile strength and comparatively low elongation. Its hardness and abrasion resistance will be higher than the raw rubber.
    – Nearly 65% of natural rubber is consumed by the automobile industry, as it is the main component in heavy duty tyres and tubes. It also has engineering application in shock absorption, vibration isolation and road surfacing.

    Government’s Initiatives:

    • The Rubber Plantation Development Scheme: It has components for promoting rubber cultivation in traditional and non-traditional regions, mainly in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Odisha and West Bengal.
      • Later, the Scheme for Rubber Development in Northeast focused on new planting of rubber in the North Eastern States.
    • Rubber Production Incentive Scheme (RPIS): It provides financial support and technical assistance for planting of new rubber plants.
      • It guarantees a minimum price of Rs.150 per kilogram for rubber.
    • NE Mitra scheme: The Rubber Board, in association with major tyre companies, is implementing it to contemplate fresh cultivation of rubber in 200,000 hectares in five years.
    • Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme: The All India Rubber Industries Association (AIRIA) is formulating a PLI to promote rubber goods production in the country, and expected to give an impetus to the rubber goods industry in India, which is now emerging as an alternative to China.

    Source: TH