KOCHI: In the backdrop of subdued natural rubber (NR) price scenario in the country, Indian Farmers Movement (Infam) on Tuesday met the Empowered Committee members for NR appointed by the Government of India here and urged various steps, including restriction on imports to ensure steady domestic prices for the commodity. Issues like increasing cost of production leading to under-cultivation among farmers, manipulation of NR market by utility industries and lack of policies from the state to sustain NR prices were raised by Infam, said its national trustee MC George, in a statement here.
Infam pointed out the rubber consuming industries are deliberately trying to pay less for domestic NR while rubber growers are given extremely low subsidy when compared to other rubber producing countries. The delegation said, when the rubber prices were Rs 51 per kg in 2009, the cost of cultivation of NR per hectare was Rs 98,000. Now, with the rise in tapping and collection charges, the same has gone up to Rs 3 lakh per hectare. Proposing effective steps to avert the unremunerative price mechanism prevailing now, Infam proposed to the Standing Committee the following measures.
1. Under the ‘Indian Rubber Act’, minimum price involving the cost of production and 50 per cent more of the same as stipulated in the pricing mechanism for farm products be fixed at the earliest.
2. The duties collected on NR imports to the tune of Rs 1,800 crore from 4.5 lakh metric tonnes of import be distributed among the domestic NR farmers.
3. The entire domestic NR production value to be considered as ‘deemed export’ so much so the domestic NR producers should be permitted to import rubber goods at duty-free rates for their consumption.
4. NR imports to be restricted only to meet the gap between domestic production and consumption.
5. Imported rubber be put under quality inspection possibly under the supervision of the Rubber Board of India to check transfer of plant diseases. Infam said the NR prices in the domestic market crashed from Rs 250/kg to Rs 90/kg.