Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala- based Beta Group has tied up with a Malaysian partner to introduce a new technology that claims to boost the productivity of rubber in the state. The new system, named G- Flex, is based on gaseous stimulation technology developed by the Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia.

Sandeep Acharya, director, Business Development, Beta Group, and Jay Nambiar, director, Hevea-Tech SDN, Malaysia, told reporters here recently that the two firms have set up a joint venture company named Beta Agritech to promote the G- Flex system among rubber farmers in Kerala. The pilot project will be implemented in five test stations in association with the Rubber Research Institute, Kottayam.

The G-Flex system employs ethylene gas injection to improve the latex yield from a tree. The technology providers’ claim that it is more cost effective and user-friendly compared to un-stimulated control or conventional liquid-based stimulation.

Mr. Nambiar said G- Flex would be a boon for Kerala which already has a productivity of 1879 kg per hectare per year, the highest in the world. The state’s remarkable achievement is due to the breeding of precocious clones coupled with judicious application of conventional tapping techniques and good field practices. Rubber farms cover 6 lakh hectares in Kerala, yielding an annual output of 800,000 tonnes. However, the scarcity of land for augmentation of rubber farms impose serious limitations on further improvement of productivity.

Mr. Nambiar said the introduction of G-Flex in Malaysia and Vietnam had resulted in an increase of 50 to 200 per cent in the latex yield.

According to Ismail Hashim, director, Hateg Corporation, Malaysia, G- Flex has the potential to bring in an additional annual revenue of Rs.1,50,400 per hectare against a one-time investment of Rs.13,800. The farmer can recoup his initial investment, cost of application and subsequent operation in less than three months, he said.

Minister for Industries Elamaram Karim launched the G- Flex technology at a function held here last week.