KOCHI: INFAM (Indian Farmers Movement) has approached the Union Government demanding a total ban on import of natural rubber. A delegation comprising retired IAS officer P C Cyriac, V C Sebastian, M C George, former MLA P C Joseph and Moydeen Haji led by Bishop Mar Mathew Arakkal met Union Minister of State for Commerce Nirmala Sitharaman and submitted a memorandum urging the government to ban import of natural rubber. “If allowed, restrict the volume of import to the actual extent of deficit of production,” the memorandum stated.
“The Rubber Board’s statistics reveals that there is a shortage of 50,000 to 60,000 metric tonnes of natural rubber (NR) production in India as against the industrial requirement of the nation. At the same time, the price of NR has crashed down by one third compared with the price in 2012,” it stated.
“Ninety per cent of the country’s NR production is from Kerala. Of this, 85 per cent NR is produced by marginal medium and small farmers and the extent of land owned by them varying from 10 cents to 2 hectares. About 12 lakh families directly depend on rubber cultivation for their daily bread. Another six lakh labourers and their families also are directly employed in this farm sector,” INFAM leaders said. INFAM has sought immediate government action to refix the minimum price of RSS 4 rubber at Rs 180 per kg, considering the escalation of cost in production.
The farmers organisation, in the memorandum, has also urged the authorities to formulate a national policy for road rubberisation scheme at least for National Highways to increase domestic consumption of natural rubber.
Another demand is to increase import duty to 40 per cent of the price and to restrict import through one or two ports and implement strict quality check and make sure that rubber below the RSS 4 quality is not imported to India. “Natural rubber import should be restricted as requirement specific, certified by the Rubber Board rather than distorting the price structure or manipulation of the domestic market for undue gain,” INFAM demanded. INFAM urged the government to instruct the Rubber Board to procure at least 1 lakh TEU rubber at Rs 180 per kg as an immediate arrangement for saving the distressed rubber farmers.