The price of sheet rubber of RSS grade 4 in the State, which was ruling at Rs. 143 a kg at the beginning of the month, rose gradually to reach Rs. 154 a kg on Thursday.

John Mathew, a traditional rubber grower at Kadaba in Sullia taluk, told The Hindu that the price had touched Rs. 155 a kg on Tuesday and ruled at Rs. 154.50 a kg on Wednesday.

Mr. Mathew is the president of the Kadaba Rubber Producers' Cooperative Society.

According to him, the price of rubber in the State had increased because a majority of growers in Kerala had stopped tapping latex for the past few days due to adverse weather conditions. Mr. Mathew said that growers generally stopped tapping during winter (December-January) as rubber trees were deciduous (they shed leaves during winter) leading to a decline in yield. Tapping resumes in February. Mr. Mathew said that he had come to know that because of the high temperature in Kerala, many growers had now stopped tapping latex. However, Rajesh Shetty, Chief Executive Officer, Belthangady Taluk Rubber Growers' Marketing and Processing Cooperative Ltd., Ujire, the largest purchaser of rubber in the State, said that the steep rise in price might be due to futures market or the satta bazaar.

The rubber price was Rs. 139.50 a kg in late December, and it touched Rs. 143 a kg in early March this year, Mr. Shetty said.

According to president of the Belthangady Taluk Rubber Growers' Marketing and Processing Cooperative Ltd., Ujire, Sridhar G. Bhide, who is also president of the Karnataka Rubber Belegarara Hitarakshana Vedike, the cooperative procured 1 per cent of the rubber produced in the country.

Mr. Mathew said that it would be fair if farmers got Rs. 100 a kg of rubber.

According to Narayana Swamy, Deputy Rubber Production Commissioner, Rubber Board, Mangalore, the cost of rubber production on a hectare of land now worked out to Rs. 1 lakh. It is calculated over a period of seven years because it takes seven years for a rubber plant to yield latex. Approximately 450 to 550 plants can be planted on a hectare of land.

Mr. Bhide said that the price of rubber had reached Rs. 140 a kg in August 2008, but started declining to settle at Rs. 70 a kg.

According to Mr. Shetty, the price of rubber was hovering between Rs. 65 a kg and Rs. 72 a kg in February 2009.

The cooperative at Ujire procured 772 tonnes of rubber last month and 576 tonnes in February 2009.

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