Kozhikode: The rubber cultivation practice in Kerala started since British era. The plantation had been growing ever since. But for the first time in history, Kerala marked no increase in plantation land this financial year. Last year, there was negligible increase in plantation land but this year the growth has been negative.
92.16 percent of India’s rubber cultivation lies in Kerala. 20.31 percent of Kerala’s cultivation is engulfed by rubber.
The decrease in cultivation is attributed to termination of subsidy, continuous decrease in price, farmers moving to alternate crops, and the 2018 August floods. Earlier, it was expected that in 2020 the rubber production will increase to 13.8 million metric ton. The present decrease is equally appalling to agriculture sector and industrial sector.
With only a few weeks left for the financial year to conclude, the exact area of rubber cultivation is not available. Unofficial statistics report a decrease of at least 500 hectare. This year the domestic production had decreased to half as imported products conquered our markets.
In 2017-18, even after efforts by the rubber board to increase cultivation, there was only a 65 hectare growth. In the previous year it was 210 hectare. This decrease comes at times when rubber cultivation is expanding in other states.
Farmers are abandoning rubber because the profit doesn’t match expenditure. Rubber is a long time crop and hence its cultivation has not abruptly ended.
India stands 4th position in rubber cultivation among other countries. If the government move forward with treaties like Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), it will again deliver a setback to farmers and agricultural sector.