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06. October 2006

INDIA: Rubber growers take to `undesirable' methods

Source: Daily "The Hindu Business Line", New Delhi; 6 Oct 2006

Kottyam , Oct. 5
At a time when rubber prices ruled high, especially
when it crossed the historic mark of Rs 100 a kg,
rubber growers frantically searched for new techniques
to enhance their production. They tried to extract
more latex from the trees unaware of its grave
consequences.

The undesirable practices, which were followed by some
of the growers, did much harm to the trees. To take
maximum advantage of the high price, some of them
added larger quantities of fertilisers than what was
actually required, expecting higher yield. Growers
were also tempted by manufacturers and dealers of
agricultural inputs such as bio-fertilisers,
bio-pesticides, growth promoters, etc to apply such
materials in rubber plantations.

While some of these inputs are scientifically proven
to be useful in certain crops, their usefulness and
relevance in rubber is still to be established.

Use of such materials without any firm scientific
recommendation is likely to raise the cost of
production without any benefit. Moreover, some of the
materials might be even harmful to the trees.

Use of yield stimulants beyond what is recommended and
high intensity tapping to raise production are
undesirable practices having serious implications,
which would affect the sustained productivity of
rubber plantations. It is also known that rubber is
now being planted in agro-climatically less favourable
places.

"The unscientific practices for temporary benefits
ultimately harm the plantations", Dr N.M. Mathew ,
Director Rubber Research Institute of India, told
Business Line.

Wayanad, replacing traditionally grown crops such as
coffee, pepper, etc. While it is true that rubber may
grow in some such locations, it is likely to be
affected by diseases such as powdery mildew etc.

Moreover, the overall productivity also will be lower
than that in the traditional rubber growing areas.
While rubber might prove to be economically viable in
such regions under a high price scenario, it might be
highly unprofitable once the prices fall below certain
levels.

Truck loads of planting materials reach Wayanad for
rubber planting at places where land is available.
Malpractices are on the rampant to get immediate
benefits. Some growers have even opened new panels to
maximum exploit the trees.


(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)

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