India's natural rubber production fell 7.5 per cent in 2018-19, even as consumption went up 9 per cent year-on-year, thanks to heavy rains and low prices. At 6,42,000 tonnes, as per the provisional data of the Rubber Board, production was the second lowest in recent times after that in 2015-16, which saw the worst plunge to 5,62,000 tonnes. Around 10 years ago, the output used to hover around 9,00,000 tonnes.
Consumption has been growing consistently in the past couple of years and it reached 1,211,940 tonnes last year. As a result of the large supply deficit, imports escalated 24 per cent to a new high of 5,82,351 tonnes. Following heavy rains last year, the Rubber Board had scaled down its production target to 6,00,000 tonnes from 7,00,000 tonnes for the year ahead.
Major Rubber Producers
Tripura and Assam are the two biggest growers of rubber after Kerala. Though the total share of north-eastern states is only 23 per cent of the total rubber output, production in this region has shown a healthy growth in the past few years unlike in Kerala.
The imports are up by close to 35 per cent for the nine months to December 2018 from a year ago at 4,49,088 tonnes, as per Rubber Board data. In 2017-18, rubber import stood at 4,69,760 tonnes. The production for the period showed over an 8.5 per cent decline at 4,79,000 tonnes. However, rubber consumption has been going up consistently. For the nine-month period, it rose 13 per cent to 9,21,600 tonnes, well on its way to 1.2 million tonnes targeted by the board.
Natural Rubber consumption in the country in 2030 is projected at around 12 million tonne. It is envisaged that the domestic production is able to meet at least 75% of the NR requirement in 2O3O. In order to attain the projected production, average annual new planting and replanting would be to the tune of at least 8,000 ha and 10,000 ha respectively. Though the Rubber Board has targeted a production of 6,00,000 tonnes for the year 2019, the trade expects it to be much less. Both import and production are expected to be around 5.5 lakh tonnes.