Mangaluru: The Deputy Commissioner A B Ibrahim held a meeting with rubber growers and the members of the rubber board at the DC Office here, on January 18.
Ibrahim said that there were many issues the rubber growers faced especially due to the low prices and asked the growers to voice their concerns.
Representatives of the rubber growers said that the demand for rubber has increased and since the supply was less, the deficit was filled by importing rubber from foreign countries. “The authorities have imported 3.5 Lakh tones of rubber when only 40000 tonnes of rubber was needed. This has further lowered the price of raw rubber,” a representative said.
Since government had allowed FDI in rubber the growers faced further dilemma. There was a demand to scrap FDI in rubber.
The import duty on rubber sheets is 25% and that on latex is 70%. “But is 25% import duty enough to protect the interests of the farmers?” asked the chairman of KarnatakaAgriculture Prices Commission (KAPC) Prakash Kammardi. The demand for natural rubber was 70% and that for synthetic rubber was 30% in India. But internationally, there was a reverse trend as the world consumed 30-20% of natural rubber and 70-80% of synthetic rubber.
Prakash questioned whether further expansion of rubber plantations is necessary to meet the growing demand? In return one of the rubber grower said that the rubber sapling takes 7-8 years to mature, and already there are many saplings available to meet the future demand. Another representative said “When the rubber prices were high, small rubber plantation growers could live a dignified life. They even took loans, but now as the prices have fallen, they are facing problems,” she said.
Prakash said, “An ideal import duty has to be imposed so that farmers will not face loss. There may be some issues with SAARC, but they can be negotiated. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi can’t stop the imports as we have signed agreements with WTO.”
“A perfect report on demand, supply, international demand, cost of production and methods to reduce cost of production is needed to arrive at a decision on increasing the import duty,” Prakash said.
ACD Kumar and members from the Rubber Board were also present.