“As per prevailing trends, Natural Rubber (NR) production in India will not be sufficient to meet the consumer industry’s demands as consumption is expected to reach 1500,000 tonnes by 2025-26. The production-consumption gap is presently met by imports, and that involves a huge amount of foreign exchange outgo. Hence there is an urgent need to increase the area under rubber cultivation on a war footing, both to meet the domestic demand and reduce the dependence on imports and restrict the outgo of foreign exchange,” said Dr. Sawar Dhanania, Chairman, Rubber Board.
He was delivering the presidential address at the 181st meeting of the Rubber Board held at Kottayam. The Central Government felt the need to increase natural rubber production in the country by expanding rubber cultivation to non-traditional areas, including North East and traditional regions. Board has identified a vast stretch of land in North East and West Bengal for rubber cultivation. ‘NE-MITRA’ is a project conceived by the Board to develop rubber plantations in those areas with financial support from consuming industries. Meantime, the efforts for extra income generating activities like beekeeping, intercropping etc., should be continued. He added that promoting the rubber wood industry and carbon trading is the need of the hour to make a green environment and bring sustainability to the rubber sector.
Dr. K.N. Raghavan, Executive Director said that India consumed 1,238,000 MT of NR in 2021-22, an increase of 12.9% from 1,096,410 MT consumed in 2020-21. The auto tyre sector registered 15.9% growth during 2021-22, against 3.2% recorded during 2020-21. At the same time, the general rubber goods sector registered 5.6% growth during 2021-22 compared to a high negative growth of 16.4% recorded during 2020-21. Auto-tyre manufacturing sector accounted for 73.1% of the total quantity of NR consumed in the country during 2021-22. The projection of NR production and consumption for 2022-23 is 850,000 tonnes and 1290,000 tonnes respectively.
Import of NR increased to 546,369 tonnes during 2021-22 compared to 410,478 tonnes during 2020-21. 60% of the import was through duty paid channel. 87.5% of import was in the form of block rubber. The gap between the quantity of NR produced within the country and that required by the consuming industry is the primary reason for importing huge quantities of this commodity.