Kerala’s Rubber Industrial Park to aid farmers vs rubber price “crisis”

Thomas-IsaacA first-of-its-kind Industrial park for rubber products manufacturer will be set up in Kerala, India. During the presentation of 2019-2020 state budget, Finance Minister Thomas Isaac announced that the Kerala Government plans to set up an integrated park for rubber products to help both rubber manufacturer and farmers.

Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) already prepared a detailed project report in which 26% of shares will be held by the state government and the rest by private investors; similar to the Cochin International Airport Ltd. (CIAL),the first airport in the country with private ownership. According to the Minister a leading tyre company, which he did not disclose the name, will be the major investor in the project.

A 200-acre land in Kottayam district is also identified by the Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (KINFRA) to be the site of the proposed industrial park.

Kerala accounts for 83% of India’s NR production and is considered as the rubber capital of the country. Rubber cultivation amounts to a total of 74% of area in Kerala and has more than one million growers, and half a million people work as tappers in various rubber estates. With these numbers, the rubber sector is dominated by small and marginal farmers who have less than one hectare of land.

Rubber prices have been fluctuating and of late, the prices have remained low, pushing farmers to reduce their tapping activities.

Minister Isaac said during the Legislative assembly for the Kerala Budget 2019 that the crisis in the rubber sector can be alleviated by focusing on giving rubber industry value addition. Thus, the Minister said that the proposed rubber park is likely to manufacture all rubber products ranging from balloons to tyres. In addition, the new budget allocated a sum of Rs500 towards providing subsidy to rubber farmers.Furthermore, common processing facility for small rubber farmers will also be available in the park.

Aside from allocating the budget to the industrial park, the Kerala Budget 2019 is very significant since it contained the government’s proposals to rebuild Kerala after the devastating Kerala Floods of 2018.