Kochi: The Rubber Board is organizing an international conference on natural rubber extension and development, marking 50 years of the trade promotion agency’s rubber replantation subsidy scheme. About 600 delegates from India and abroad are expected to attend the meeting in Kochi on 9 and 10 May.
The board is embarking on a Rs241 crore scheme to cover 33,000ha for replanting during the 11th Plan period, and is bringing another 25,000ha under rubber cultivation in the country’s north-east.
High labour cost and a workforce scarcity have put replantation cost at Rs1 lakh per ha in traditional areas in Kerala, the nation’s top rubber producing state, and at Rs80,000 in non-traditional areas.
The board provides a 20% subsidy on the cost. The subsidy scheme was introduced to support farmers as they would start getting yield from new plants only after five-six years. Sajen Peter, chairman of the board, says the agency has been offering support for the past 50 years to extend the area under rubber cultivation.
The total area under rubber cultivation in the country in 2007-08 was 630,000ha, compared with 615,000ha in the previous fiscal year.