KOCHI: The Centre is working aggressively to formulate a rubber policy which would holistically benefit all the stakeholders in the rubber value chain, said Suresh Prabhu, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday.
“The Centre, along with the Kerala and Tripura governments has formed a task force for the purpose and their report is ready,” Prabhu said in his video message at the inauguration of the 4th India Rubber Meet (IRM).
“I assure action will be taken on whatever deliberations, discussions and findings are made in IRM 2018, for the benefit of rubber growers and the industry and for accelerating economic growth,” Prabhu said.
The theme of this year’s IRM is ‘Towards a sustainable rubber value chain.’ Member secretary of the state’s Administrative Reforms Commission Sheela Thomas said a multifaceted approach combining institutional, developmental and regulatory measures to research, innovation and upgrading quality; skill generation and improvement; and modern modes of trading, is essential to ensure the sustainability of the rubber value chain.
“The rubber industry value chain in India annually produces items worth nearly `85,000 crore with annual export reaching `19,000 crore. There is a vast potential for the industry to grow in terms of the range of products, value addition, technology upgrade, quality enhancement, export and employment generation. We cannot overlook the vulnerability of the weak and marginal sections of the rubber value chain in restructuring to suit to the new environment,” Sheela said.
She said the precarious situation of small and marginal rubber growers due to low and volatile rubber prices, low productivity, rising costs and climate change needed special mention.
“The viability of economic sectors depends on net returns, the maximisation of which needs the adoption of measures to enhance cost and quality competitiveness. This is true of rubber producing and consuming sectors as well,” Sheela said.
D Anandan, chairman and executive director of Rubber Board, said the prospects of the rubber sector are closely linked to macroeconomic trends, developments in end product sectors, technological change, oil market developments, weather conditions, other speculative factors.
“The present slump in rubber prices has been prolonged, challenging the sustainability of rubber cultivation in terms of its economic and social impact. Other segments of rubber industry are beset with other forms of challenges arising from global competition, dumping, non-tariff barriers and technological bottlenecks. Deliberations on sustainability are more critical during challenging times than in normal situations,” Anandan said.
The IRM, a biennial event organised by the Rubber Board in partnership with stakeholder associations in rubber and related sectors, is being currently held in Kochi and will conclude on Wednesday.