In a move that is likely to help a large number of rubber growers in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts, Belthangady Taluk Rubber Growers' Marketing and Processing Cooperative Ltd., Ujire, is all set to purchase latex after a year. Meanwhile, the price of sheet rubber touched Rs. 160 a kg on Wednesday, the highest ever in the State.

Besides freeing farmers from having to convert latex into rubber sheets.

At present, some private players in the two districts are purchasing latex from growers in small quantities.

Sridhar G. Bhide, who was re-elected president of the cooperative two weeks ago, told The Hindu that as growers were faced with a shortage of labour, selling latex instead of sheets would be more remunerative and convenient. In addition, they would be saving on firewood, used in smokehouses for drying sheet rubber, especially during the rainy season, he said.

Mr. Bhide, who has been the president of the society since 1996, said that the cooperative was contemplating constructing a warehouse with a capacity to store 1,000 tonnes of rubber, near Belthangady. “About 250 companies, including a leading tyre manufacturer, have been buying rubber from the cooperative,” he said.

He attributed the rise in the price of sheet rubber to speculation in the futures market or satta bazaar. “There is no physical trading in the futures market,” he said.

Even if the price drops in the near future, it might not fall below Rs. 120 a kg because the demand for rubber is also rising owing to short supply, Mr. Bhide said.

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