First countrywide census of rubber holdings this month

As soon as the ongoing Statewide lockdown eases, enumerators will be knocking on the doors of natural rubber growers in Kottayam to count the trees in their holdings.

The exercise, according to Rubber Board officials, marks the pilot phase of a countrywide census to prepare a comprehensive data base on rubber plantations. The details, to be collected with the help of various rubber producing societies, will be updated and collated through a mobile app, developed in association with the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, Kerala.

According to K.N. Raghavan, executive director, Rubber Board, the census aims at ascertaining the actual area under rubber, size and age profile of holdings and rubber trees, level of adoption of new clones, and details of tappers, among other things. The exercise will help overcome the shortcomings on periodical updating and is crucial in understanding the distribution pattern of holdings, especially in northeastern States.

“The exercise will be carried out in different phases and it will take just over a year to process the whole data. As well as routine planning, it will help formulate mission mode schemes for improving production,” he said.

While the Rubber Act of 1947 stipulates mandatory registration of rubber plantations, the discontinuation of the practice has forced the board to base its calculations on structured statistical random sampling.

As per the available estimates, the overall size of rubber plantations in the country is around 8.20 lakh hectares with a tappable area of 6.98 lakh hectares. The number of trees per hectare of land varies between 450 to 500.

Natural rubber production in the country recorded an upward momentum despite lockdowns and a resultant fall in consumption. As per official estimates, the volume rose to 7.15 lakh tonnes in 2020-21 compared with 7.12 lakh tonnes in the previous year. The consumption, meanwhile, declined to 10.96 lakh tonnes against 11.34 lakh tonnes in the preceding fiscal.

The net result of increased production and fall in consumption was a reduction in imports, which fell from 4.57 lakh tonnes in 2019-20 to 4.10 lakh tonnes.

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Printable version | Aug 3, 2021 5:46:16 PM |

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