Though quite late in the day, the Central Government has finally realized the potential of the rubber plantation in the Northeast. Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal on Tuesday acknowledged the good quality of rubber produced in the region and described the region as a rubber procurement zone. Realizing the importance of the rubber sector of the region, the Automotive Tyre Manufacturers’ Association has come forward to invest Rs 1,100 crore for developing a plantation in 2,00,000 hectare of land within a span of five years in the Northeast.
The rubber plantation of the region will be able not only to cater to the demands in the other parts of the country but will also get a market in the Southeast Asian countries. The ongoing Multi-Modal Logistic Park at Jogighopa will help boost trade linkages of the region with Bangladesh and the other neighbouring countries.
It’s an irony that in spite of being endowed with plenty of natural resources, the Northeast region has failed to make the desired headway in the agriculture sector. Compared with the other parts of the country, the resource utilization efficiency in the region is comparatively quite low. Moreover, the farmers of the region are yet to reap the fruits of the latest developments taking place in the agriculture sector. As a result the region’s agriculture sector has not developed in the way it should have.
With agriculture being the prime mover of the region’s economy and the major section of the workforce associated with it, this vital sector should get the importance which it so rightfully deserves. In this bleak scenario, it is heartening to note that the Government of India has decided to encourage rubber cultivation in Assam along with the other Northeastern States. As the demand for rubber is on the upswing, its cultivation holds very good prospects not only for the farmers but also for the overall economy of the region.
The prospective areas in the State which have been identified by the Rubber Board are uncultivated, underutilized and fallow high lands mainly distributed in Goalpara, Kamrup, Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Baksa, Nagaon, Cachar and some selected pockets in Lakhimpur, Sivasagar, Jorhat and Dibrugarh districts. To make rubber cultivation economically viable in the region, the authorities concerned must provide incentives, subsidies, and free extension support to encourage small growers.
Considering its demand, commercial rubber cultivation can bring in good dividends to the farmers and the region alike. To make it feasible, the authorities should aid the farmers to identify the markets and make the necessary linkages. It is time agriculture potential is exploited to usher in a green revolution in the Northeast.