Import of natural rubber (NR) fell seven per cent in 2016-17, due to rise in production in India.
Speaking to Business Standard at the sidelines of the 124th Annual Conference of the United Planters Association of Southern India (UPASI), N Rajagopal, secretary in-charge of the Rubber Board, said import of NR had risen consistently since 2008-09, reaching 458,374 tonnes in 2015-16. In 2016-17, it declined for the first time, by seven per cent to 426,434 tonnes, and was expected to come down to 320,000 tonnes in 2017-18.
The value of import in 2016-17 was Rs 4,521 crore, compared to Rs 4,672 crore, a year ago. Duty-free import accounted for 23 per cent of the total.
Rajagopal expects production of 800,000 tonnes in 2017-18, while consumption will be 1,070,000 tonnes. In 2016-17, productivity per kg/ha was 1,563 tonnes, compared to 1,437 tonnes in 2015-16. The share of untapped area dropped to 24 per cent, from 30 per cent in 2015-16. In 2013-14, share of untapped area was eight per cent.
The board is taking measures to increase the untapped area, by adding new regions in new states, said Rajagopal. Recently, the tyre manufacturers’ association visited Tripura, and they are convinced about the quality and supply. The automotive tyre sector accounts for two-third of NR consumption.
Rajagopal said NR export increased to Rs 220.9 crore in 2016-17, from Rs 8.3 crore in 2015-16.
"We have got potential to annually produce 900,000 tonnes,” said Rajagopal. India is currently the sixth largest producer of NR, with five per cent of world production. It continues to be the second largest consumer of NR, with 8.2 per cent of world consumption.
The value of NR production in India is estimated to be Rs 9,300 crore annually and turnover of the rubber manufacturing industry around Rs 75,000 crore. Export of rubber is Rs 18,500 crore, including Rs 10,000 crore from the tyre sector. Import of rubber products is Rs 8,640 crore.