Planting subsidy for rubber to be restored
Board to come up with online platform for payments
Stung by a consistent fall in the area under replanting and new planting over the years, the Rubber Board has initiated steps to restore the planting subsidy scheme for growers after a gap of three years.
Official sources said the board would soon come up with an online platform for processing and paying of planting subsidies since 2018-19 period. The programme, which is slated to take off next month in Kerala, will be extended to the northeast in a phased manner.
The subsidy amount, pegged at ₹25,000 per hectare, will be transferred directly to the growers’ bank account in a single tranche as against three instalments previously. The step also puts to rest speculations of the Union Government seeking to discontinue the subsidy scheme and replace it with a rubber loan scheme for growers.
“Our distribution of subsides has been delayed by some years due to financial constraints, but we resumed it last year and paid some of the subsidies due for the 12th Plan period. A scheme for distribution of subsidy for the period between the 12th and 13th Plan period (2018-19) is ready for Kerala, which will be gradually expanded to other areas,” K.N. Raghavan, executive director, Rubber Board, said during a recent online interaction with farmers.
Prior to launching the scheme, field officers of the board carried out a survey of plantations across 1,400 villages in the State and uploaded the details in the Service Plus portal. A similar survey for the rubber growing areas across north eastern States is currently underway.
As per estimates, only about 5 lakh out of the 6.90 lakh hectares of matured plantations are tapped on a regular basis. The total area under rubber in the country, meanwhile, is estimated to be 8.23 lakh hectares.
With non-payment of subsidies since 2018, coupled with the fall in prices and COVID-19 induced slump, the average area under new planting and replanting dropped to less than 10,000 hectares a year from 30,000 hectares. Adding to the woes of growers, the board had cut back its support to farmers in the absence of adequate budgetary allocations.
The trend, however, appears to be reversing on the back of rising prices and a planting drive in the northeast, while the domestic consumption too is poised to hit record levels at 12.5 lakh tonnes this year.