Agartala: Amidst the lockdown enforced as a precautionary measure against the outbreak of coronavirus, Tripura rubber farmers are in despair as they are facing huge losses with no demand for rubber sheets even though the price has come down by over Rs 40 per kg.
Tripura is the second-largest rubber producer in India after Kerala producing more than 68,000 metric tons (MT) of rubber in 85,000 acres of land throughout the year.
Due to the lockdown the local rubber producers are at despair as 90 percent of the total produced rubber exported to other parts of the country has stopped.
Speaking with EastMojo, Raju Das, a rubber producer from Champamura village in Sepahijala district, said that due to the lockdown the demand for the rubber sheets from other parts of the country is limited.
“Prior to the pandemic the price of rubber sheet was Rs 120 to Rs 130 per kg. Now, as their is no demand for rubber sheet are being sold at Rs 80 to maximum Rs 90 per kg, yet there is no demand in the market,” Raju said.
He also said that the rubber sheets once ready are sold to the agents in the city, who later sell them to companies and firms located in other parts of the country.
“Around 90 percent of the rubber sheets are exported from the state to other parts of the country, but due to the lockdown the people engaged the business had stop placing demand for them,” Raju said.
Another producer, Ratan Das, said that he has around 4,000 rubber trees, for which two workers are working to collect the latex from the trees but due to the lockdown he is not able to sell his stocks.
“It has become difficult to raise the production cost of rubber as both the price and demand is not the same like before. I have stopped collecting latex from the rubber trees and the workers following which the workers are also likely to lose their jobs if the situation does not improve,” Ratan said.
He also said that they are not sure when the situation would improve and the demand in the market will be like before. They are anxiously waiting for the situation to become normal and get the actual price for the rubbers.
One of the major reasons for the losses of the rubber producer is not having any rubber based industry in the state and depends upon other state to import the produce.
“The state has failed to setup a rubber based industry in last three decades even through the states ranks third place in terms of production of quality rubber compared to other states of the country,” Ratan added.
Earlier on July 17 last year, speaking in Lok Sabha, West Tripura MP Pratima Bhoumik said that around two lakh people are engaged in the production of rubber in the state, while about six lakh people are directly or indirectly dependent over its income.
During question and answer session, Bhoumik said that Tripura is the second largest rubber producing state and around 60 thousand tons of rubber is produced in the state every year, but due to the absence of minimum support price (MSP) they are not getting the desired amount.
“They people are losing the interest from the rubber production as the amount of profit is very less in the state. The MP urged the central government to provide minimum support price (MSP) of rupees 170 per kg to the rubber producers so that rubber plantation does not get stopped in the state,” Bhoumik added.
Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on February 12 launched a new cold and disease tolerant hybrid rubber clone ‘RRII 429’ to improve the commercial cultivation of natural rubber in the northeast region.
This clone can produce more than 64 grams per tree /tap in large scale trials and 1500 kg/ha/year in Block trails and outperforms RRIM 600 which yields 40 grams per tree tap and 1200 kg/ha/year and block trials respectively.