Future shock

By Saj Mathews

The future of natural rubber, which has over the years turned out to be the most lucrative agricultural crop and the most sought after industrial raw material, is apparently hanging in balance in the wake of the unabated steep fall in prices and the consequent desertion of rubber tapping and plantation by farmers across the major NR producing countries. Time has come for serious initiatives on the part of the policy makers and all stakeholders to sustain this industry.

Is the sun setting over the good old NR industry, which has over the years become the lifeline of many an economies and the industrial world? Reports are pouring from major NR producing countries about massive switch over from NR cultivation to other profitable crops on account of the growing mismatch between cost of production and market price. The irony is that policy makers and stakeholders of this sector are yet to address this issue with the concern it deserves despite the fact that the very survival of not only the dominant smallholder sector, but also the estate sector is at stake.

A near-future turnaround in NR prices is not in sight on account of the slow pace of the economic recovery in major rubber consuming countries and the consequent dull patch in the automobile and tyre market, the major consumer of NR, while the NR glut is likely to prolong. Although market experts predict a slight improvement in demand in the coming years of the decade, all agree that it will not be trigger a major turnaround in price. Unless a major turnaround in prices happens, the growers will certainly desert rubber and seek other greener pastures.

Full Text in PTA News Bureau


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