Natural rubber import drops in February as prices increase in key markets
India's natural rubber (NR) import in February was half of that a year before, at 15,609 tonnes. Industry representatives say this was mainly due to an increase in prices in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia, key sources for Indian tyre makers, the largest consumer of rubber.
On Wednesday, the RSS-4 variety in India was Rs 14,600 for 100 kg or $224.77 in Kochi, as compared to Rs 15,094 or $232.4 in Bangkok.
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Intermittent showers in most of the growing areas and relative improvement in the price might mean fairly good production in March, too, says the Rubber Board. Production in February was 54 per cent more than in the same month last year, 57,000 tonnes versus 37,000 tonnes.
However, consumption dropped to around 83,000 tonnes in February from 84,320 tonnes a year before, according to the Board.
Truck and bus radial tyre production dropped in the second half of 2016 by 20 per cent, due to both a slowdown and import from China. From production of 550,000 in June, it went to 450,000 radials in December. Two years before, the tyre industry's capacity utilisation was 80 per cent; it is now 65-70 per cent.
NR production in 2016-17 is expected to exceed the anticipated 654,000 tonnes. Rubber Board statistics show it had reached a cumulative 622,000 tonnes by end-February, the financial year's first 11 months. This is 17.6 per cent more than the output during the same period last year, of 529,000 tonnes.
In 2012-13, production touched 913,700 tonnes, the best since 2004-05. Since then, it gradually dropped, to 562,000 tonnes in 2015-16. Average yield dropped from 1,841 kg a hectare to 1,437 kg. The reasons given are untapped holdings, climate change and shortage of tappers.
The Board has taken measures such as contact programmes to improve production and productivity.
About 10,000 tappers were trained under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana.