Aizawl, Nov 12 (UNI) With limits to the growth of rubber in traditional areas of Indian south-west coast, the Rubber Board (RB) has taken up cultivation of rubber as commercial crop on a larger scale in the North East in the coming years.
The Board has prepared a blue-print to bring about 32 to 60 per cent of new rubber plant of the country in NE states by next year and an integrated approach for hiking rubber production has been drawn for the region for achieving the target.
Talking to UNI senior scientist and Joint Rubber Production Commissioner P Paribalam said the RB implemented a project for accelerating the development of rubber production in the region between 1989-90 and 2004-05 against the target, which was followed by a scheme with a total financial outlay of Rs 84 crore for the tenth five year plan (2002-07).
Referring to the mid-term appraisal of the project Mr Paribalam said, RB replanted rubber saplings under integrated rubber development programme besides quality upgradation and demonstration of agro-management practices in Tripura, Asom, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland.
''RB adopted village-based approach in the states consisting of components like revitalisation of sick plantations, restocking of poor ones and expansion of area under rubber by creating processing and marketing facilities,'' Mr Paribalam said.
The Board has emphasised on the expansion of rubber cultivation and improvement of productivity following sustained rate of rubber imports with the explosion of automobile industry in India, he said adding that India is still dependent on other countries, as the country imported about 45,000 tonnes of rubber annually.
''Since rubber is a relatively new crop in NE, extension of support has already been taken up to make the farmers adopt scientific agro-management practices and the board is providing training to the farmers apart from distributing estate inputs and cover crops. It is also providing financial assistance for boundary protection, established group processing centres, supplied rubber rollers and rubber sheeting rollers free of cost in the region'', Mr Paribalam stated.
He said as per the report of Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII), RB marked the total potential area available for rubber cultivation in NE at about 5,00,000 hectares including 50,000 hectare in North Bengal.
The union commerce ministry has urged RB to come out with a strategic plan to increase the extent share of around eight per cent from NE substantially to control the rubber import following RRII report.
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