The Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India, has come out with a draft “National Rubber Policy” with focus on welfare of the entire stakeholder community and national economic progress.
The draft Policy is put up in the public domain in order to seek wider consultations and feedback/suggestions from the stakeholders.
The suggestions may be forwarded to the Ministry in the e-mail id ms.banerjee67@nic.in.
The draft policy states that notwithstanding the status of NR being a crucial industrial raw material, the possibility of treating NR as an agricultural product for all practical and legal purposes and
income from rubber production as agricultural income would be explored in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare.
“NR, being an industrial raw material or not included under the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) of the WTO, has nothing inconsistent with its status as an agricultural product for domestic policies,” the draft policy says.

Boost for manufacturing

The policy aims at the orderly and complementary growth of all links in the Rubber Industry Value Chain viz., NR production and processing, manufacturing of tyres and general rubber products, trading, ancillary activities etc. Focused efforts would be taken at
synchronizing all initiatives and attempts towards growth of rubber industry as a whole.
There is no designated national level agency to assist rubber products manufacturing sector. A Rubber Industry Development Plan would be formulated by Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) in consultation with other relevant Ministries/Departments and Rubber Board.
An independent Rubber Products Export Promotion Council also could be constituted in order to address the export related issues of the rubber products sector (both tyres and general rubber goods) and also to specifically handhold the manufacturers belonging to MSME sector. Further, export oriented clusters would be identified and specific strategies would be framed for giving the focused boost in exports.
Road rubberisation would be promoted to boost rubber consumption.
Specific action plan for promotion of commercial utilisation of Rubber wood as an alternative source of timber would be prepared with due importance for small dimension technology.
The draft policy also says development of Rubber Parks as processing hubs would be promoted in the private sector or under PPP mode.
“NR consumption in the country in 2030 is projected at around 12 million tonne. It is envisaged that the domestic production is able to meet at least 75% of the NR requirement in 2O3O. In order to attain the projected production, average annual new planting and replanting would be to the tune of at least 8,000 ha and 10,000 ha respectively. Efforts would be made to get all the available mature area under rubber tapped,” the policy says.
The policy envisages furthering SR production, especially types and grades deficit in the country and providing adequate attention on protection against possible environmental hazards involved in their manufacturing.

Price support measures

The price volatility in rubber crop directly impacts livelihood of millions of small and marginal growers involved in the sector. Efforts would be made to ensure the livelihood protection of rubber growers by way of insurance/price support in consonance with the prevailing norms and policies.
In order to ensure quality and standardisation of sheets, Group Processing Centres (GPC) would be promoted with facilities for processing latex, effluent treatment, biogas etc. Latex/sheet/scrap collection through RPS/SHGs would be supported technically and financially.
The share of cooperatives and RPS sector together in rubber trading is around 12% at present. Efforts would be made to increase the share of grower forums in rubber trading.
To meet the shortage of rubber tappers, setting up of Tappers Banks as Self Helf Groups (SHGs) attached to Rubber Producers Societies (RPSs) would be formalised and continued.

Research on climate change

Climate Change with its three major dimensions of global warming, increasing seasonal weather variability and higher incidence of extreme/unusual weather events will have impact on rubber plantations in the future. The Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) has reported that if the present warming trend continues, NR productivity in Kerala could be reduced by 4% in the next decade.
Focused research on climate change and developing climate resilient technologies for adaptation and mitigation protocols would be taken up to address the challenge.
The policy proposes to coordinate the activities of various institutions undertaking R&D activities in rubber sector such as RRII, IRMRA, IITs, Universities and in-house research facilities of major companies, leading to exchange of technology, minimising duplication in efforts and increased output.