The Association of Planters of Kerala have urged the Union and State governments to intervene to stop the fall in the price of natural rubber to save lakhs of rubber farmers in the State.

In a statement here on Friday, the association said that rubber farmers in Kerala were facing an unprecedented financial crisis “due to the free fall of prices and the all-around increase in the cost of production.”

The price of natural rubber had dropped 47 per cent in the last 24 months whereas wages had gone up by 61 per cent during the same period, it said. The cost of all other raw materials had also gone up by 40 to 50 per cent. If the Union and State governments did not extend adequate support, small farmers would be forced to move away from rubber cultivation to other crops as happened in the case of cocoa and vanilla, the statement said.

“The reason for this crisis is the unabated import by tyre manufacturers, citing short supply of natural rubber in domestic market. But an analysis of the market trend for the last one year shows that most of the genuine buyers are staying away from the market to create shortage of demand and thus force a fall in prices,” the association said.

Rubber Board data showed that a stock of more than two lakh tonnes of natural rubber in India. “If the situation continued, the plantations may be forced to stop tapping and close down their operations. The small and medium growers may be forced to switch over to other crops, which are remunerative. This may lead to reduction in area under rubber and would affect production,” the statement said.

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