1.65 Crore Rubber Plants Successfully Planted in NorthEast
Photo caption: From left: Milan Sharma, Project Head, ATMA NR Project, K N Raghavan, Executive Director Rubber Board, Satish Sharma, Chairman ATMA, Rajiv Budhraja, Director General ATMA
Over 1.65 crore rubber plants have been successfully planted in the Northeast of the country under a project launched by the Automotive Tyre Manufacturers’ Association (ATMA) in collaboration with the Rubber Board for developing 200,000 hectares of rubber plantation in the North Eastern states and West Bengal over a period of 5 years involving an outlay of Rs 1100 crore. The plantation also involves planting material of 55 lakh successfully transported from Kerala to the North East by rakes over the last one year despite logistic challenges.
This is the first of its kind project in the world where the consuming industry is working in collaboration with Government agencies involved in the production of Natural Rubber (NR) with the objective of the increasing availability of this strategic raw material in which India is grossly deficient.
“In one of the biggest such projects anywhere in the world, planting material in such large quantities has been transported overcoming all logistical challenges. ATMA NR Project is truly a collaborative exercise with the Rubber consuming industry, the Rubber Board of India and all the stakeholders working in unison to realize the vision of an Atma Nirbhar Bharat in rubber production”, said Mr Satish Sharma, Chairman ATMA.
“Raw material security has been reckoned as a major area of importance for any country in the new world order. Given the importance of such strategic raw material, the country needs to focus on increasing the domestic NR production so as to become self-reliant and avoid dependence on import of this critical raw material to the maximum extent possible”, said Dr K N Raghavan, Executive director Rubber Board.
NR demand-supply gap has been widening in India and at present nearly 40% of the NR requirement is met through imports. Against consumption of 12.3 lakh tonnes of NR in FY22, domestic production stood at 7.7 lakh tonnes in the country. It is estimated that by 2030, the country would require about 20 lakh tonnes of NR per annum.
The project activities are being undertaken in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and West Bengal. The NE region holds immense potential for rubber plantation in view of the availability of land and suitable agroclimatic conditions. At present NE states account for 18% of the production. Once the objective of developing plantations in an additional 2 lakh ha under the ATMA NR Project is achieved, it is estimated that the share of NE states will increase to 32% of production.
Besides plantation, the project entails the enhancement of the quality of rubber produced through the creation of model smoke houses and the upgradation of existing smoke houses. Training and Skill Development is a major component of the project and involves creating infrastructure for training facilities, conducting training programmes for farmers, tappers etc on best practices and technologies.
Under the project, the capacity of nurseries in North Eastern states is being developed to meet the requirements of planting material in the coming years.
The project entails the socio-economic development of resource poor population in these states since farmers with land holding of less than one acre are being engaged in the project. Plantation in 2 lakh hectares will therefore directly benefit nearly 2.5 lakh farmers and their families.