The crisis that has enveloped the wide belt of rubber plantations in Kerala finally looks set to fade away with tyre manufacturing companies, the biggest consumers of natural rubber (NR) in the country, set to resume procurement of the material from the domestic market.
In a meeting convened by the Rubber Board here on Tuesday, tyre majors expressed their willingness to procure during the upcoming peak production season. The total procurement this time, according to them, will not be less than the volume purchased during the same period last year.
The discussion was organised by the Rubber Board in view of a continuing free fall of natural rubber prices, the impact of which has begun reflecting on the daily lives of growers.
Addressing the meeting, K.N. Raghavan, executive director, Rubber Board, said the peak season for natural rubber was about to begin and if the leading tyre companies continued to stay away from the market at this juncture, it would add to the distress of farmers. Noting that the abstention of growers from harvesting would also harm the consumer sector, he said the steps to resolve this issue should benefit the entire rubber value chain.
According to Mr. Raghavan, the farmers would be ready to produce sheet rubber only if they had some certainty about procurement.
In view of an assurance from tyre companies, Mr. Raghavan urged the growers to return to sheet rubber production. “The best season for rubber production is ahead and the growers should produce RSS 4 and 5 grades of rubber to get an advantage when companies take positive steps to improve the domestic market,’’ he said.
The official called upon Rubber Producers’ Societies to convince the farmers of the need to return to sheet rubber production and provide necessary assistance for their members. “The Rubber Board expects the current crisis to be resolved once the tyre companies become active in the market,” he added.
The price of natural rubber has crashed to a 16-month low of below ₹150 per kg (RSS grade 4) in the Indian market. The price of latex has a more severe drubbing with its prices rolling down below ₹100.