Agartala, Mar 19: The Rubber Board of India (RBI) has adopted the Tripura model for rest of the country to accelerate rubber cultivation as a commercial crop which will be implemented during the 11th and 12th Five Year Plans.
Addressing the rubber growers of the state here today during the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Rubber Plantation Development (RPD) Scheme, RBI chairman Sajen Peter said rubber production in Tripura had almost doubled in the past decade and the RPD scheme made an admirable contribution in conservation of bio-diversity and upgradation of the rural economy.
He informed that the RBI had initiated a multi-dimensional project to boost the rubber production and enhance the prospect of revolution in the elastic polymer industry as well as started a separate project for setting up India's second rubber-based industrial park in the state in collaboration with the Tripura Industrial Development Corporation (TIDC).
After Irapuram in Kerala, Bodhjungnagar Industrial Estate of Agartala would be the next industrial cluster for rubber-based finished products and the Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS), a leading project management agency, was entrusted to set up the park where at least 20 rubber-based industrial projects would come up within the next three years.
''Presently, India is the largest rubber producer in the world followed by Thailand and Vietnam. The Tripura model was identified as best for tribal areas development and sustainable economic growth of the indigenous population,'' Mr Peter said, adding that after Kerala Tripura had emerged as the major rubber producer and the entire Northeast was also coming up.
Mr Peter asserted that the Manimalayar Rubber(P) Ltd, a company floated by the RBI with the participation of the Rubber Producers' Societies, played a significant role in rubber trading and estate inputs throughout Tripura and a wide network of rubber dealers ensured farm gate price to the growers, besides successful implementation of RPD in the NE.
Meanwhile, speaking on the occasion, Tripura Rehabilitation and Plantation Ltd and Tripura Forest Development Plantation Ltd Managing Director Achintya Sinha said India was still importing rubber and estimated that the gap between demand and supply of latex was about 12,000 tonnes per annum now and it would increase to about 68,000 tonnes in 2011-12.
He pointed out that the state government had been contemplating to utilise unused land across the state to make it one of the major rubber
producing states in the world and the landlocked state, which has already become the second largest rubber producing state in the country, would emerge as one of the best in the years to come.
Mr Sinha said the state had potential of rubber production in 1,00,000 hectares of land but only 4,000 hectares was brought under the integrated rubber plantation. ''This could well be expanded to 6,000 hectares as the impact of rubber in the state has been quite significant in raising the standard of living of the people, especially tribal population,'' he added.
The RBI launched Block Plantation Scheme, implemented from 1992, with the collaboration of the state government for socio-economic settlement of the 'Jhumias', which had been considered as a grand success and the scheme has so far covered 3,344 hectares of land, supporting more than 3,000 beneficiary families.