Aluva (Kerala), May 27: After taking up the woes of farmers and fisherfolk, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday assured rubber growers in Kerala, hit by steep fall in prices, that he would take up their issue with the Centre. [Government took away farmers' land for corporates: Rahul Gandhi]
During a brief interaction with reporters after a meeeting representatives of rubber farmers here, Gandhi said representatives of rubber farmers organisations, whom he met today, wanted specific issues to be taken up with the central government and they would be raised at the appropriate time.
"The farmers organisations have specific issues with the central government, which they have asked us to raise," he said, adding, "we will take up those matters at appropriate time..."
Continuing his attack on the BJP-led NDA government, Gandhi said "everyone is unhappy with this government" and only a few friends of the government were happy.
During the nearly one-hour interactive session with rubber growers, Gandhi listened to their problems in the wake of sharp fall in prices of natural rubber in the past few years.
Farmers at the meeting wanted Congress to take up their cause in Parliament. They also explained to Gandhi the economic, social and enviromental impact of rubber to the state.
Addressing them, Gandhi said he was even ready to come to Kerala to hold a 'padyatra' through the rubber plantations to have first-hand knowledge of the situation.
Gandhi was also very positive towards the issues raised by farmers, Rubber Growers Federation President Siby Monipally, who attended the meeting, said.
Rubber, one of the major cash crops in the state, is the livelihood of over 11.50 lakh rubber farmers, most of whom are small-holders.
Due to crisis in the sector, production of natural rubber in Kerala has declined by more than 15 per cent during last fiscal as against the yield a year ago.
Production of natural rubber during 2014-15 was 6,55,000 tonnes, 15.4 per cent lower than 7,74,000 tonnes produced in 2013-14.
Kerala accounts for more than 90 per cent of the total rubber production in the country. The total area under rubber cultivation in the state is 5.45 lakh hectares.