Cabinet approves Rs 240 cr for Rubber replanting programme

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New Delhi, Mar 12 (UNI) The Cabinet has approved a scheme of Rs 240 crores for re-plantation of 41,750 hectares under the replanting programme for rubber during the 11th Plan Period in the traditional and non-traditional regions other than North-East (NE).

Another Rs 173 crores have been allocated to increase 25,000 hectares of area under rubber cultivation in the NE in the next five years.

Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa come under non-traditional areas in rubber replanting programme.

Speaking to reporters Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh today said rubber is not open for Free Trade Agreement (FTA), and has been put under negative list.

''The import duty on rubber, which is at 20 per cent, will remain the same despite Thailand, Vietnam and our own tyre industry asking for a cut,'' the Minister said.

Our big challenge is to convince rubber growers for re-plantation.

''So I appeal to all of them, to work with the rubber board and go for re-plantation,'' Mr Ramesh added.

In the 11th Plan the subsidies have been fixed at Rs 19,500 per hectares in the traditional region (which works out to 20 per cent of cost of production).

In the non-traditional region the new planting subsidy during the 10th Plan varied between places but it was always less than Rs 20,000 per hectares. In the 11th Plan this is Rs 22,000 per hectares (which works out to 25 per cent of cost of production).

The subsidy is limited to a maximum of 2 hectares only.

Rubber plantation has been inactive in the past due to the number of factors such as appreciation of rupee, increased competition from new players and rise in imports.

Re-plantation of rubber has been identified as one of the thrust areas by the Government for revival of plantation crops economy.

Kerala accounts for about 82 per cent of the total area under rubber plantation in the country.

India is one of the largest rubber producers in the world besides Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Also, it is the second highest amongst the major natural rubber producing countries in the world.

The country is also one of the largest consumers of natural rubber.

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