Rubber Board Chairman Sajen Peter has stressed the need for the researches in natural rubber sector to factor in the impact of climate change on production and productivity in rubber plantation sector worldwide.

Inaugurating the three-day international workshop on ‘Climate Change and natural Rubber Cultivation', organised jointly by the Rubber Research Institute of India and International Rubber Research and Development Board (IRRDB) here on Wednesday, Mr. Peter said the fall in productivity of natural rubber in the past few years could be directly linked with the effects of greenhouse gases.

The impact would have greater bearing on the natural rubber sector since majority of the holdings were of half a hectare in area and the farmer was faced with a gestation period of six to seven years for availing a regular income from his investment for the next quarter of a century.

“If we are to maintain productivity at a higher level, a lot of research needs to go in, not only to weather the existing challenges, but also the hidden challenges, especially in the area of developing clones that could withstand the erratic climatic behaviour,” Mr. Peter said.

Stephen V. Evans, secretary general, International Rubber Study Group (IRSG) in his Special Talk delivered on the occasion, said that the normal natural rubber production would substantially increase in the coming decade on account the contribution from the nearly one million ha that has

been brought under cultivation, in the south-east Asian countries.

This upsurge would be highly visible in Vietnam. Nations like Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, Myanmar and China too have brought large areas under new cultivation. As per the projections, taking the base year as 2008, natural rubber availability was to increase by 30 per cent by 2015

and 50 per cent by 2020, he said.

However, these projected figures would be impacted by the effects of climate change and change in land use pattern, he said. In his presidential address, Abdul Aziz, secretary general, IRRDB, said that the erratic behaviour in climate has pushed the rubber grower community in the traditional areas into an era of uncertainty. There has also been an incidence of pest attacks.

Prof. J. Srinivasan of Indian institute of Science, Bangaluru, said the global mean temperature of earth has increased by one degree Celsius during the past 150 years and the present century would witness an accelerated pace of increase in temperature if human beings continue to depend on fossil fuels. If the global mean temperature increased by more than 2 degree Celsius than the 19th century levels, threat of an abrupt climate change cannot be ruled out, he said.

Dr. James Jacob, director, RRII, and vice-chairman, IRRDB, welcomed the gathering. R Krishnakumar, joint director, RRII and IRRDB liaison officer for physiology group extended vote of thanks. Delegates from China, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Indonesia, Cambodia are also participating in the workshop.

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