Delayed monsoon and sharp increase in atmospheric temperature have affected the production natural rubber in most of the growing areas in Kerala. This led to a shortage of the commodity, as tapping had been stuck in major chunk of plantations.
In the local market, the price of bench mark grade RSS-4rebounded to Rs 130 a kg after a gap of three months. The price dropped to a level of Rs 119 by the last week of April. Global prices, too, noted an increasing trend compared to last month as Bangkok market on Tuesday quoted Rs 119 a kg. The market had shot up to Rs 121 a kg last week.
According to experts, the absence of monsoon and the extreme hot condition in the hilly areas would lead to serious shortage of rubber. This kind of climatic condition is back after a gap of five years. So the market might be on a slightly higher mode in the coming weeks, they said. Meanwhile, rubber futures on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange (TOCOM) showed a downward trend on Tuesday.
Last weekend, TOCOM rates had risen as much as 14 per cent to a 16-month high, while the Japanese currency fell to a 12-year low. For the past couple of weeks, supply from Thailand, the world’s largest producer and exporter, is around the lowest level of the year because of a low-production season. In Thailand, rubber trees shed leaves during the February-May period and farmers halt tapping. Exports from the country in the first four months of the year are down 26 per cent at 1.17 million tonnes, according to data from the Thai commerce ministry.
High temperature hits output
A study by Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) has found that the occurrence of extreme temperature events are becoming more frequent in recent years in Kottayam, the major rubber growing area in Kerala. An analysis of daily maximum and minimum temperatures from 1970 to 2010, conducted by the Climate Change and Ecosystem Studies Division of RRII, showed clear indications of a warming trend, which can be attributed to the threat of changing climate in this region.
The production of latex in rubber trees is closely related to the atmospheric temperature. The productivity of the crop decreases as the atmospheric temperature goes up beyond a threshold level. Earlier studies clearly indicated that the increase in atmospheric temperature would affect the rubber production in the traditional rubber growing regions in India. Thus, the impact of changing climate in this region might seriously affect rubber cultivation if the present warming trend continues.
Since the socio-economic sustainability of the region is highly dependent on rubber cultivation, farmers should adopt climate-resilient measures, RRII said in a statement.
According to RRII’s study, diurnal temperature range – the difference between monthly mean maximum and minimum temperatures – increased from 7.80C during 1970s to 9.20C in recent years. Warm days with temperature above 320C also increased at the rate of 0.56 per cent a year. The number of days with minimum temperature decreased significantly, indicating the warming nights are becoming more in Kottayam during recent years.
The monthly highest temperature showed an increase of 0.0380C a year between 1970 and 2010. Persistence of high temperature consecutively for six days or more represents a warm spell. The number of such warm spells increased and the gaps between warm spells became shorter in recent years.
The frequent occurrence of such high temperature events is a clear indication of changing climate leading to the warming of this region. If such events persist, it might cause serious impacts on the agricultural ecology of the region. The impacts of such phenomenon in the production and productivity of agricultural crops in South East Asian and European countries have already been reported. The situation is alarming in the case of rubber as cool atmosphere is essential for tapping more latex.
– Business Standard