KOCHI: Rubber production in the country has shown an 8 per cent increase in August for the first time this fiscal, though the prices are at a five-year low. Seemingly, the Rs 300-crore subsidy scheme of the Kerala government has impacted the production but the industry feelsit is debatable as the scheme is yet to create sufficient interest among the farmers. Therubber production in August touched 55,000 tonnes, 4,000 tonnes more than in the same month a year ago.The consumption for the month saw a marginal rise of 1 per cent at 87,500 tonnes. The imports have dropped for the second consecutive month by around 32 per cent.
The overall rubber output for five months to August continues to be short by 11 per cent than a year earlier, while the consumption was down by only 2 per cent for the period. The dealers and the growers are not convinced about the production figures released by theRubber Board as they say the tapping is done only in a few estates. “It is difficult to believe that the output has increased in August. As per our estimates based on the interaction with farmers, it could be 10 per cent lower,” said N Radhakrishnan, a leading rubber merchant.
The subsidy scheme envisages payment of Rs 150 per kg for rubber for farmers having up to two hectares, with the difference between the current price and the government fixed price as subsidy. Kerala produces nearly 90 per cent of the rubber in the country . As per Rubber Board data, 2.34 lakh growers out of over 1 million small farmers have registered for the subsidy scheme. Around 35,000 have submitted bills for receiving the subsidy , which has now increased to Rs 38 with prices dropping to Rs 112 per kg.
A sum of Rs 40 lakh has been paid to over 1,700 farmers when the Kerala chief ministerlaunched the scheme around two weeks ago.