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Cut rubber trees to manage price, says economist

Hold on to rubber, say Indian officials

Speakers at the sixth edition of India Rubber Summit & Dinner 2014 organised by Rubber Asia in Kochi, India, on September 21, 2014, aired differing views on ways to deal with the prolonged spell of low NR prices.Award2

Dr Hidde P Smit, former Secretary General of International Rubber Study Group (IRSD) and noted rubber market analyst, who delivered the keynote address, predicted that the low price regime could continue for the rest of the decade and even beyond. He suggested reduced tapping and cutting down of trees in a coordinated way as a desperate solution to contain further drastic fall in prices.

However, speakers from the India side such as Sheela Thomas IAS, Secretary General, Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC) and former Chairman of Rubber Board, India, Dr James Jacob, Director, Rubber Research Institute of India(RII) and C Vinayaraghavan, President, Harrisons Malayalam Ltd. strongly disagreed with Smit’s view and felt that in the Indian condition,where the demand supply gap is met by imports, the rising supply deficit could be bridged only by boosting production.

Sheela Thomas said while attempts are on to stabilise commodity prices, it is equally important to raise the income of smallholders. Vinayaraghavan said the Price Stabilisation Fund of the India Government has failed to serve its purpose and what is needed is a Strategic Rubber Fund that would address the concerns of farmers as a whole, instead of price alone.

Dr James Jacob said India cannot produce rubber as cheap as the low-cost countries. “If we do not preserve the NR production base, there will be more imports. It is in national interest to import rubber if we don’t produce enough,” he said.

Dr J Thomas, former Rubber Production Commission, Rubber Board, and now the Director, Spices Board, said growers should hold on to rubber cultivation in spite of the challenges at present as there is little scope for migration to other crops in India and the past experience of switching over to alternative crops like vanilla and cocoa had been disastrous.

P K Mohamed, Advisor, Apollo Tyres, said there is too much focus on price and issues such as raising the quality of rubber, R&D initiatives etc too should get due attention of the industry.

Talking on Indian Tyre Industry–Challenges & Opportunities, M P Kanjolia, Senior Vice President, JK Tyre & Industries Ltd, said innovative technologies, deep and clear understanding of customer needs and proactive anticipation of challenges – be it technological, economical, environmental, operational – were needed to stay in readiness to respond to the emerging challenges.

Enlightening presentations

IRSD 2014 commenced with welcome address by Mr Kurian Abraham, Chief Editor & Managing Director of Rubber Asia, Dhanam Publications Pvt.Ltd.

Dr A Jayathilak IAS, Chairman, Rubber Board, India, delivered the presidential and inaugural address. Dr Hidde P Smit delivered the keynote address, while Ms Sheela Thomas gave a special address.

Mr P C Cyriac IAS, former Chairman, Rubber Board, India, and Chairman of the Award Jury, chaired the panel discussion on NR Price: The shape of things to come, while Paul Settles, LMC International, UK, chaired the second panel discussion on Indian Tyre Industry: The raw material challenges. Dr Jay Nambiar, Chairman, Asian Latex Conference 2015, introduced the speakers to the gathering.

In the afternoon session, Shishir Desai, Head of Technology, Tata Steel Global Wires – India, Dr Mallika Bohm, Principal Researcher, Surface Engineering, Anil Mishra, Paul Settles, LMC International, UK, and Yeo Ek Meng, Vice President, Singapore Exchange, gave presentations.

Neeraj Kanwar is `Rubber Man of the Year 2014’

The Dinner Session began with a welcome address by Mr John S Powath, Executive Director, Rubber Asia, Dhanam Publications Pvt. Ltd. Dr J Alexander, former Chief Secretary and Minister, Government of Karnataka delivered an enlightening and entertaining Dinner Speech.

The high point of the evening session was the presentation of the first annual awards instituted by Rubber Asia to top performers in the Indian rubber industry.

Mr Neeraj Kanwar, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Apollo Tyres, was the winner of the prestigious Rubber Man of the Year Award. The award was received on his behalf by Mr P K Mohamed, Advisor, Apollo Tyres, from Dr Hidde P Smit, former Secretary General of International Rubber Study Group (IRSD) and noted rubber market analyst.

The Largest Tyre Exporter of the Year 2014 Award, won by Balkrishna Industries Ltd (BKT), was received by Mr S Suresh from Dr A Jayathilak IAS, Chairman, Rubber Board, India.

The Award for the Largest Rubber Products Exporter of the Year 2014 was received by Mr Aamir Vohra, CEO of Zenith Industrial Rubber Products Pvt.Ltd., from Ms Sheela Thomas IAS, Secretary General, Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC).

The Award for the Largest Producer of Synthetic Rubber for the Year 2014, won by Reliance Industries Ltd, was received on behalf of the company by Mr Nirmal Gangopadyaya from Dr J Alexander, former Chief Secretary and Minister, Government of Karnataka.

The Award for the Planter with Largest Productivity (Estate) in 2014 was presented to Mr. S Ramachandran of Vaikundam Plantations Ltd, Kanyakumari district, by Mr Anil Mishra, Managing Director of National Multi Commodity Exchange.

Prof. Scaria Francis received the Award for the Planter with Largest Productivity (Smallholding) from Mr C Vinayaraghavan, President, Harrisons Malayalam Ltd.

The Award for the Best Rubber Technology Institution, won by Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, was received by Dr.Thapan Kumar Chaki, Professor of the Rubber Technology Centre, from Mr P C Cyriac IAS, former Chairman, Rubber Board, India, and Chairman of the Award Jury.

Dony George, Deputy General Manager, Mardec R K Latex, proposed a vote of thanks. The event concluded with exciting entertainments, cocktails & dinner.

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