Rubber output fall hits tyre makers

Prelims level : Agriculture Mains level : GS - III
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Fall in natural rubber production in the country has raised concerns in the tyre industry, which has appealed to the Union Ministry of Commerce to take steps to ease availability of the raw material in the interest of the consuming industry.

Natural rubber consumption grew 12%, while production dropped 7% during the April-January period this financial year, said a communication from the tyre industry body Automotive Tyre Manufacturers Association (ATMA).

Rubber Cultivation in India: Production, Distribution and Trade!

Rubber is a coherent elastic solid obtained from latex of a number of tropical trees of which Hevea brasiliensis is the most important. Rubber is used for a variety of purposes from erasing pencil marks to manufacturing of tyres, tubes and a large number of industrial products. The first rubber plantations in India were set up in 1895 on the hill slopes of Kerala. However, rubber cultivation on a commercial scale was introduced in 1902.

Conditions of Growth:

Rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) is a quick growing tall tree acquiring 20-30 metre height. It begins to yield latex in 5-7 years after planting. It requires hot and humid climate with temperature of 25°-35°C and annual rainfall of over 200 cm. The rainfall should be well distributed throughout the year.

Dry spell and low temperatures are harmful. Daily rainfall followed by strong sun is very useful. Deep well drained loamy soils on the hill slopes at elevation ranging from 300 to 450 metres above sea level provide best conditions for its growth. The yields decline at higher elevations and no rubber plantations are found above 700 m elevation.

Production and Distribution:

India is the third largest natural rubber producing country of the world, next to Thailand and Indonesia, producing about 9 per cent of the global output. From about 200 hectares in 1902-03, the total area under rubber plantations increased to about 5.9 lakh hectares in 2003-04.Similarly, the production that was 80 tonnes in 1910 increased to about 6, 90,000 tonnes in 2003-04. The most important and noteworthy achievement has been the increase in productivity from 354 kg/hectare in 1960-61 to 1663 kg/hectare in 2003-04.

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