As befits a country that boasts a huge population of techies, digital technology is now coming to the rescue of the Indian natural rubber sector as well.
With a view to overcome the factors that limit the efficacy of domestic supply chain for Natural Rubber (NR), the Rubber Board is taking the e-commerce route to re-shape how the commodity market operates.
“mRube’—an upcoming electronic trading platform by the agency—seeks to add to the market visibility of existing players and bring in more business by reaching out to new sellers and buyers, even in far-off places.
The initiative, according to a top official with the Rubber Board, will help the NR market overcome the innate challenges of rubber marketing such as less market awareness, shrinking size of the dealer fraternity and the trading of ungraded rubber in large volumes.
“The growers and cooperatives are often finding it difficult to sell rubber as per quality grades to final consumer, which, in turn, dissuades them from producing quality material. The size of the dealer fraternity is also seen shrinking alarmingly over the past couple of decades—from 10,512 in 2000 to 7135 in 2020,” noted the official.
The e-market, according to him, follows a simple one-time registration for users approved by the Rubber Board licensing portal. It allows filtering out buyers and sellers according to their geographical location, quantity, grade, customer ratings, etc. and upload offers and counter offers.
Personalised trade pages are available for those purchasing from their empanelled vendors and a legalised trade contracts is generated on confirmation of a deal.
“Despite being used in the manufacture of products with critical importance, there is no systematic arrangement for certifying quality of rubber traded in the country. The new e-market seeks to address this lacuna and will entail a system to assay the quality of rubber, which will be a game changer in the domestic NR trade,” added the official.
To operate the payment gateway, the Board has joined hands with a couple of scheduled banks and an escrow account, which will nullify the payment risk of buyers and sellers involved in trade through the portal, too has been set up. Arrangements are also in place to extend a zero-interest rate facility to sellers—a first in the history of the country's commodity trade.
The portal, which is in the final stages of testing, is slated to go live from the second week of May. The Android and ioS version of e-market mobile applications are also ready for use.