Price of grade IV ribbed smoked sheet (RSS) rubber touched Rs. 189 a kg in Dakshina Kannada on Wednesday. It is the highest price for rubber so far in the State.

With this, the price of grade IV sheet rubber has shot up by Rs. 33 a kg in the last six-and-a-half months this financial year. Its price was Rs. 156 a kg in the first week of April.

Belthangady Taluk Rubber Growers' Marketing and Processing Cooperative Ltd., Ujire, a prominent procurer of rubber in the State, and the Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative Ltd. (CAMPCO), Mangalore, which began procuring rubber this month, offered Rs. 189 a kg on Wednesday.

An official of the Ujire-based cooperative said: “We do not rule out the price touching Rs. 200 by the end of December.”

Poor collection

Sridhar G. Bhide, president, Karnataka Rubber Belegarara Hitarakshana Vedike, Ujire, said several factors pushed up the price. Tapping of latex following rains is yet to pick up. Hence there is shortage of sheet rubber. Arrivals are not proportionate to the extent of matured rubber plantations,” he said.

In addition, speculation in the futures commodity market and increasing demand for natural rubber has contributed to the rise in the price, he said.

The official of the Ujire-based cooperative said that in the futures commodity market on Wednesday, rubber was quoted at Rs. 198 a kg for January. With the price hitting through the roof, the tyre manufacturers had been pressuring the Centre to cut import duty on rubber, he said. When there were reports in August that the Government might cut the duty, the price of rubber dropped only to pick up later.

A CAMPCO official said that following reports, the price came down from Rs. 180 range in mid-August to Rs. 164 a kg in the first week of September. Tapping of latex in south Kerala is yet to pick up following rains, he said.

CAMPCO managing director A.S. Bhat said that the cooperative had begun procuring rubber, for the first time, at seven places — four places in Karnataka and three in Kerala.

Mr. Bhide, who heads the Ujire-based cooperative, said his organisation would open procurement centres at Rippanpet, Baindoor, Halady and in Bantwal taluk. At present, it has 15 rubber procurement centres.

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