Kanhangad:  When the Plantation Corporation cut down the lush cashews in full bloom in their plantations in the northern parts of Kerala, its prices were a mere Rs 40 per kg. Rubber, which replaced cashews, was a money spinner earning Rs. 200 per kg then. Nine years down the lane, the prices have flipped and rubber is at Rs. 150 and cashew at a lucrative Rs. 160 per kg.

While the PCK authorities are hopeful that the rubber prices will shoot up in the near future, it is no consolation for the experiment that seems to have failed in the early stages itself. The low prices and the several dried up rubber trees are not a promising sight for the corporation nevertheless.

The plantations in the southern parts of the state are already under rubber cultivation. As an experiment, the northern parts have also been planted with rubber in view of its increased profitability. 5000 hectares of the total 2200 in the Kasargod estate has been planted with rubber. 175 of the 900 hectares in the Cheemeni estate, which includes the Nadukaani division at Kannur, is also under the experiment. According to the sources the shift was inspired by an attempt to reduce the usage of pesticides in the cashew plantations.

At the rate of around 350 rubber trees per hectare, the total number of trees planted must be around 2.25 lakhs. The tapped latex is sold to private companies at Ernakulam or Pathanamthitta. Cashew had fetched the corporation Rs. 4 crores last year. This year with the increased prices, the corporation has bagged Rs. 6 crores. With one and a half months of sales left and rubber prices still not going high the comparative results are very predictable.