In an effort to increase rubber production, Indian Rubber Board plans to adopt plantations that are lying untapped in Kerala. The board proposes to run the project through 3,000-plus rubber producers’ societies (RPS). Sixteen rubber trading and processing companies jointly owned by the board and the RPSs will run the programme, initially identifying untapped plantations in Kerala, India.

“We plan to do the weeding and spraying in the estates along with tapping and making sheets. On selling as latex or sheet, the surplus after meeting the expense will be given to the grower,’’ said board executive director Dr KN Raghavan. The board has set a production target of 7,50,000 tonnes for 2019-20 after the output fell below seven lakh tonnes in the last three years, mainly because of a slump in prices, reflecting the international trend. From 6,94,000 tonnes in 2017-18, it fell to 6,51,000 tonnes last year.

“Many of these plantations are finding it hard to engage tappers. We can use the service of the tappers’ bank formed by the RPSs. Usually, we replant about 5 per cent of our estates annually. We had to stop that because of the heat,” Dr Raghavan said.