AGARTALA, Aug 29 - The Rubber Board has been gradually shifting its focus from rubber cultivation to producing quality rubber sheets to ensure maximum value addition to the State�s raw rubber, according to official sources.
Natural rubber production in Tripura has been enhanced from 46,815 MT in the 2014-15 FY to 65,330 MT in the 2017-18 FY though the area under rubber cultivation has not been expanded much during the period.
Around 4,000 hectares have been brought under rubber cultivation during the past four years, an unexpected pace of rubber cultivation by the Rubber Board.
�Now the Rubber Board wants to switch over its focus from expansion of rubber plantation to quality production of rubber sheets for the welfare of rubber growers. If it is ensured, rubber growers will gain,� said Deputy Commissioner of the Rubber Board, Regional Office, Agartala, Dilip Kumar Das here today.
In some areas, the Rubber Board has been able to meet its targets � quality improvement and value addition to scrap rubber or latex by imparting training to rubber growers and tappers. �Earlier only 20 per cent scarp rubber was sent outside the State and now it has gone up substantially due to value addition,� he pointed out.
The Deputy Commissioner said the State has been producing quality rubber sheets like RSS-5/4 and efforts are on to produce graded rubber sheets like RSS-3/4 in order to get better prices.
�We have set a target of producing 60 per cent graded rubber sheets of the total production by the next two or three years. This will have a good impact on the rubber growers,� he said.
Instead of opting for large rubber-based industries, small scale industrial units can be a game changer in Tripura�s economy, Das maintained.
Setting up a tyre manufacturing unit may not be economically viable here because it requires only 20 per cent raw rubber while the remaining ingredients, mostly chemicals, will have to brought from outside the State, he reasoned.
�That is why there must be efforts to set up small scale rubber-based units for cenex concentration, value addition to rubber sheets and scrap latex,� he said.
The Rubber Board official also dismissed reports of a sharp decline in rubber prices, pushing rubber growers to a bleak future. �Rubber growers are getting a good price by selling rubber at Rs 110-120 per kg. It is good keeping in view the unpredictable market,� Das added.