IRGA urges import ban on natural rubber, cheap quality tyres

rubberThe Indian Rubber Growers Association (IRGA)is seeking a ban on imports of natural rubber for at least six months in the country to help rubber farmers in the country meet production costs.

India’s Minister of State for the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Nirmala Sitharaman, is also being urged to impose restrictions on imports and to incentivise natural rubber exports.

IRGA general secretary Sibi Monipally said in an interview that they have already brought to the government’s attention the fact that the production cost of natural rubber is currently around Rs172 per kilo.

Monipally said the Centre should devise schemes to push up the market price, which could meet the production costs with 50% mark-up, so that rubber farmers would stop leaving the trees untapped or switching over to other crops.

According to the memorandum given to the commerce minister, when the international price is Rs160 per kilo, the premium variety RSS-4 fetches only Rs139 per kilo in India. IRGA is also asking the Centre to immediately sanction the funds for rubber subsidy to the Rubber Board of India.

Other demands include ban on the import of cheap quality tyres, hike in the import tariff on rubber products, and the launch of a new rubber re-plantation drive.

Fall in demand of automobiles has had a negative impact in the natural rubber demand. As much as 70% of the natural rubber produced is used in commercial vehicle tyres. The collapse in vehicle sales by 11.58% in November kept the natural rubber prices down.

Demonetisation, at this point, has been harsh on rubber cultivators in several ways, said Tomy Abraham, president of Indian Rubber Dealers Federation.

“Since workers refused to accept cheques, it has been hard to get skilled tappers to keep the plantations on continued latex production. This has added to the cultivator woes. If this state continues, it would be impossible to achieve the production target,” Tomy Abraham said.