The Rubber Board after 23-years of multi-locational field trials in northeastern states and West Bengal, on Wednesday, released a new cold and disease tolerant hybrid rubber clone -- RRII 429 -- to improve the commercial cultivation of natural rubber in northeast India.
A top official of Rubber Board said that based on 23-years of multi-locational field trials in North Bengal (West Bengal), Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura, the Board has evolved the new cold and disease tolerant hybrid rubber clone -- RRII 429 -- to expand the ongoing natural rubber cultivation in the northeastern states and increase the production and productivity.
"Considering the ecology, temperature, natural atmosphere of the northeastern region, the new rubber clone would be a most suitable variety of the natural rubber and boost the production and productivity thereby enhance the economic position of the rubber cultivators of the region," the official told IANS refusing to be named.
Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb in presence of Rubber Board Chairman Sawar Dhanania and Executive Director K.N. Raghavan on Wednesday released the new rubber clone RRII 429.
"With the introduction of the new rubber clone RRII 429, the livelihood of the natural rubber cultivators specially the indigenous tribals would be further improved. As the new rubber clone is a fast growing variety and high yielding besides cold tolerant, this would be a step towards increasing the rubber production of Tripura and other nortrheastern states," Deb said after releasing the new natural rubber clone.
Dhanania told IANS that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked to support the weaker region of the country and that's why the Rubber Board scientists had developed this new natural rubber clone for the northeasteren region. Another Rubber Board official said that the new natural rubber clone during the trials in the cold-prone northeastern states and North Bengal has shown excellent growth and high productivity.
"Powdery mildew is a widespread fungal disease affecting rubber plantations in northeast India. The new rubber clone would be able to defy this problem. Currently, two rubber clones are recommended for cultivation in the northeast region. These are RRIM 600, one of the early clones imported from Malaysia and another Indian clone RRII 208 released during 20126," he said.
The new rubber clone would improve the genetic diversity of rubber cultivation in the northeastern region. This is highly required as a guarantee against new pests and diseases to which some rubber clones might become susceptible in future due to reasons such as climate change."
Terming the release of the new natural rubber clone for commercial cultivation as a "big milestone", the official said that the new location-specific high yielding hybrid clone for the cold-prone northeast India would be very beneficial to the tribals and thousands of other rubber growers. At present, rubber is cultivated on over 1,00,000 hectares in the northeast region, comprising eight states.
Rubber is traditionally grown in Kerala and the adjoining district of Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. The northeast India is a non-traditional area. Apart from Assam and Tripura, which are the major rubber producing states of the region, rubber has been found suitable for cultivation in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur as well the lower reaches of the hills in Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland.
Tripura is the second largest rubber producer in India after Kerala with over 85,000 hectares of land under plantation, producing 74,000 tonnes of rubber annually.
Tripura's annual turnover from rubber cultivation is about Rs 700 crore.
According to provisional estimates, natural rubber production in India in 2018-2019 was 6,48,000 tonne, which is 6.6 per cent lower than that in the previous fiscal (2017-18).