Mumbai: India’s natural rubber output fell 18% in April-August as a mosquito-spread fever laid low tappers and a fungus attack diminished yield, officials said.
Production in the first five months of 2007-08 was 253,630 tonnes compared with 308,660 tonnes last year, said a Rubber Board official, who declined to be identified.
“Heavy rains during this year have caused widespread attack of fungus called phytopthora that causes lots of leaf fall,” said J.K. Thomas, president, United Planters Association of South India.
Trees that lose leaves produce less latex, which is tapped to make rubber.
A severe attack of chikungunya — causing high fever, rashes, joint pains and headache — in main rubber growing areas affected tappers, leading to a fall in output, Thomas said.
Lower production also hit exports in April-August, falling to 14,823 tonnes from 41,335 tonnes a year ago. Consequently, imports rose by 25% to 33,422 tonnes.
Production this year was likely to be lower than an earlier estimate of 874,000 tonnes and might stagnate at last year’s 853,000 tonnes, the Rubber Board official said.