The state of Tripura is very shortly going to have its own Rubber clone—RRII429 (Rubber Research Institute of India 429) that will lead to increased per area production, Rubber Board Executive Director Dr. KN Raghavan told this website. In an exclusive interview with this correspondent he informed a huge number steps were taken to augment the Rs 900 crore industry in Tripura so that more and more employment possibilities could be generated.
It takes about 20-years to prepare a new clone for any state and for Tripura which is the second largest producer of rubber in the country it took a bit longer. But finally, the clone is ready to be launched and shortly it will be found in gardens of state farmers, he added.
Speaking on the challenges, he said, for healthy rubber gardens good and well-equipped tappers—Latex collectors are the most important part. Even the Rubber Board is also contemplating to upgrade them professionally. We are planning to call them officially as “latex harvest technicians” instead of tappers in order to wield confidence. Tripura’s rubber industry is facing an acute crisis of good tappers. We are giving more and more stress on the issue so that good quality of raw material can be collected, he added.
Moreover, for better production we have also developed a soil mapping database. Through this database—RubSIS (Rubber Soil Information System) the Rubber Board can easily map the soil and can ascertain the texture of soil and develop fitting clones as per area specifics.
Replying to a question regarding low per-hectare production, he said, there are several problems from tappers to processing units that has emerged as biggest impediments in achieving good per area production. But, as per now initiatives like training tappers, generating more and more awareness programmes and making people aware of the ups and down of industry, we hope soon those problems will be sorted out. “The state government’s new steps to empower growers with industrial loans by making clusters and SHFs will also improve the situation as many small scale growers face cash crunch in the initial years of plantation” he observed. He also suggested to switch over to multi-cropping system such as Tea, Coffee and Pine-apples which is a state food now to get rid of the initial crisis period they face till their plantation meets maturity.
On the industrial aspects, he said, there is ample possibilities small scale and priority based industries such as gloves and condoms. There is already a gloves industry in the Bodhjungnagar but is in serious conditions. The Rubber Board has sent a technical team to revive the unit so that good quality of gloves can be produced here and sold in all over the North East. Condom is another product that can be easily produced here but it requires some technical feasibilities. Once people get well skilled as to how to process such units, there are plenty of scopes, he concluded.
He also suggested of forming a government level chain to start a Tyre unit engaging state transport department to procure state owned products in the first phase which can later turn into a big industrial set-up.