The United Planters Association of Southern India, an apex body for the Planters in south India, has asked the Central Government to ban imports of natural rubber (NR) for a minimum period of two years, in view of the crisis faced by the sector during this pandemic and to help the 1.32 million rubber growers.
AL RM Nagappan is the president of Upasi. He wrote a letter to the Union commerce and industry and railway minister Piyush Goyal. In the letter, he stated about the current status of NR farmers who have been going through a severe crisis due to the steep fall in prices for the past eight years.
The body requests a ban in the import until the domestic prices reach the cost of production and this is the main reason behind an unrestricted hike in the cheap imports into the country from Southeast Asian regions. The coronavirus outbreak followed by stringent lockdowns has worsened the situation as the NR production came to a halt and the current crisis is threatening the very existence of the sector.
As per Upasi sources, “the opening stock of NR as on April 1, 2020, in the country estimated at 3.4 lakh tonne, roughly translates to six months of production, which further reiterates the need to declare import moratorium.”
Further, the NR import has increased to 5,82,351 tonnes in 2018-19 from 77,762 tonnes during 2008-09. He also said that imports as a percentage of production had increased from 9% in 2008-09 to 89.5% in 2018-19, while imports as a percentage of consumption increased from 8.9% to 48.1% during the corresponding period.
The president of Upasi also requested the government to introduce safeguard duty on NR imports for a period of three years post-removal of NR import suspension as this will give extra time for the domestic NR to boom and revive from this crisis.
India imports NR from Indonesia (42.2%), Vietnam (19.7%), Malaysia (10.7%), and Thailand (9.8%) and together they counted up 82.4% of the total imports made during 2018-19.