Rubber Plantation in Northeast India, hopes vs. concerns

Jan 21 2012

By Achintya Kumar Sinha, IFS (Retd.)

Rubber, a major plantation crop in northeast India, had a quiet entry to this verdant land with the first plantation raised in Tripura in 1963 by Naresh Bhattacharjee, the venerable Forest Chief of the territory. Bhattacharjee had become a legend of sorts and stories grew around him. The one in this context goes like this. He believed that commercial success of rubber plantation in Kerala could be replicated in Tripura. Bhattacharjee advised the Rubber Board accordingly but the Board officials argued against citing the harsh winter and protracted dry season in Tripura. A seasoned forester known for his down-to-earth wisdom and tenacity, Bhattacharjee did not relent. He planted rubber in degraded forestland under a soil conservation scheme and monitored in person every aspect of its management, as if to prove a point. In a queer coincidence, the Soil Conservation Department of undivided Assam had also raised rubber plantations in a few locations soon thereafter, but it was in Tripura that its enormous potential was promptly relaised and pursued. Bhattacharjee's healthy crop of rubber seized soon enough the attention of the Rubber Board, which opened in 1967 its first office in the northeast at Agartala.

Another high point in this rubber story came about in 1976 with the establishment of Tripura Forest Development & Plantation Corporation Limited. The corporation adopted rehabilitation of degraded forestland through rubber plantation as a principal strategy and took up simultaneously a project to wean away a cluster of tribal families of Warangbari village of West Tripura from shifting cultivation by providing wage employment through rubber plantation. Soon after the site clearance had began, the Warangbari community got wary of permanent loss of land for shifting cultivation and an array of other livelihood necessities that the land delivered. On the face of a determined protest en masse, the corporation officials parleyed with the Warangbari villagers, who agreed to allow rubber plantation on condition that those would be allotted to them on maturity. It was amazing that the state government actually accepted the rather unusual demand. The families thus worked on daily wages under the corporation for establishment of rubber plantations in government land which would be allotted to them on maturity.

The Warangbari experience was the precursor to establishment in 1983 of a separate agency, Tripura Rehabilitation Plantation Corporation Limited, solely for economic rehabilitation of marginalised tribal families on rubber plantations. The same model was adopted mutatis mutandis in Tripura by the RD and Tribal Welfare Departments, Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council as well as the Rubber Board in its high profile Block Plantation Scheme launched for the northeast in 1992 but implemented so far only in Tripura. Around 22,000 marginalised tribal families in Tripura benefitted from the aforesaid rehabilitation packages till 2008-09. Beneficiaries earn a handsome income from sale of latex (May, 2011 price of sheet rubber is around Rs.220/- per kg) from mature plantations, which on average produce around 1300 kilograms of natural rubber per ha. The Rubber Board is now firmly entrenched in the northeast excluding Sikkim, considered unsuitable for rubber plantation. The area under rubber and production of natural rubber in the northeast in 2008-09 were 88,865 ha and 37,240 tonnes respectively as against 36,285 ha and 19,420 tonnes for the rest of the non-traditional region comprising of Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Orissa, West Bengal, Andhrapradesh and Chhattisgarh. The 11th Plan target for the northeast was set at 25,000 ha against 2,500 ha for the rest of the non-traditional region; and share of the target for Tripura alone was 12,400 ha. The advent of rubber set off a stunning transformation in the landscape and rural economy in Tripura pioneering in a way the emergence of the northeast as the principal rubber growing region in the country outside the traditional belt. The potential area (National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land use Planning) identified for rubber in the northeast is 4,50,000 ha against the actual area of 5,36,830 ha (2008-09) in the traditional region comprising of Kerala and Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu. Bhattacharjee, the indomitable Forest Chief of Tripura, did indeed prove his point.

It would be fair at this stage to clarify that the Rubber Board officiials were technically correct in case they really had discouraged commercial cultivation of rubber in Tripura initially. Desired locality factors within the tropics for commercial cultivation of rubber are gently undulating topography with slope between 5 degrees to 15 degrees, well-distributed high rainfall and humidity; no pronounced droughts; winter, if at all, to be mild and short; and no prolonged seasonal winds, storms or cyclones. Evidently, the northeast did not fit the bill ideally. The fact that the country needed more natural rubber - a strategic raw material - to prop up its industrial growth was obviously of paramount importance. India emerged as the second largest consumer of natural rubber next to China since 2009 (in thousand tonnes: China- 3467; USA- 687 & India- 905); and it simultaneously became a net importer (1,28,000 tonnes) for the first time there since then. There was minimal scope for further growth in the traditional rubber belt and the rest of the non-traditional region; the focus as a result was on the newfound northeast.

Fortunately, rubber is fairly adaptable to some deviations from the ideal climatic requirements albeit with consequent impact on growth and productivity. Such adverse impacts to an extent can be moderated through management interventions; but it will be prudent to accept that overall performance of rubber in the northeast cannot match that of the traditional belt. The average productivity of rubber plantation in India is around 1800 kilograms per ha. The traditional belt, which accounted for 93% of production and 81% of area coverage (2008-09), largely influence the national average productivity. As against that the production in Tripura in 2010-11 was 1456 kilograms per ha (Total plantation: 53039 ha; mature plantation: 24520 ha; production: 35693 tonnes).

The national authorities adopted the agenda to double the area under rubber in the northeast over a period of ten years since 2007-08. There is no quarrel with the programme that aims at meeting the rising demand of a strategic raw material like natural rubber for industrial growth in the country. There is, however, need for caution lest there be blunders in this mad rush. The areas of concern are many; and the first and foremost is on the general preparedness in the northeast for this gigantic leap. The present administrative and extension network of the Rubber Board in the northeast under one zonal office for Tripura and another for the rest of the region for issue of permit, release of subsidy, training and technical guidance, insurance, etcetera is grossly inadequate.

Availability of genuine planting material of recommended cultivars is far too short vis-à-vis the demand. The market is flooded with spurious saplings which account for bulk of the planting material used by private growers oblivious of the disastrous implications. Neither the Rubber Board nor the government departments and organizations engazed in the rubber sector in the northeast have adequate nursery infrastructure to support the massive planting programme. To add to the malady, the Rubber Board discontinued regulation, including inspection and registration, of private rubber nurseries since 1986.

Rubber is grown in the northeast in uplands degraded and impoverished as a result of shifting cultivation. A generous input of fertilizer is therefore essential for its commercial viability. The requirement of fertliser is between 400 to 500 kilograms per ha per annum both for immature and mature plantations. Shortage of fertilizer has even otherwise been a perennial problem in the northeast due to unreliable communication links, inadequate storage facilities and inefficient distribution network; and with the priority that agriculture enjoys, rubber ends up as the worst victim.

Almost the entire rubber latex in the northeast is processed in to sheets for sale as a large majority of the plantations are in small holdings. About four cubic meters of fuel wood is burnt to produce one tonne of dry and smoked rubber sheets. Use of biogas in addition from latex processing facilities to reduce fuel wood consumption for the purpose, though introduced by the Rubber Board in a few centres, were almost totally ignored due to lack of confidence or awareness, high cost of installation, absence of local implementing agencies and reliable post-installation services. In Tripura alone a stock of wood corresponding to around 1000 ha of forestland would have been burnt to process 35693 tonnes of rubber produced during 2010-11. Vast tracts of the countryside in certain parts of Tripura are almost devoid of any tree other than rubber. Tripura forests too are under heightened stress.

While most rubber planters might sound happy with the handsome returns from their plantations in Tripura, their women folks often express their desperation in missing the bamboo shoots, delicious wild vegetables, tuber crops and medicinal herbs delivered by the erstwhile natural vegetation. Tripura witnessed an extra-ordinary expansion of rubber plantation in recent times (2005-06:- 31673 ha & 2010-11:- 53039 ha); and many in the villages and the civil society now blame the large-scale substitution of indigenous vegetation by rubber for the drying hill streams and village wells. They express concern about the foul-smelling effluent from rubber sheet processing units that pollute the soil, water and the air they are to live on. Remedial measures are often listed but hardly ever put in place and practiced. These concerns, real without a doubt, will grow in enormity with time and there is seemingly no serious action plan or endeavor in sight for remedies.
It is appropriate under the circumstances to explore, identify and implement alternative farming models for commercial rubber cultivation in the northeast that meet the livelihood needs and other aspirations of the ethnic communities, who depend a lot more on the land with its indigenous biodiversity, compared to those in the traditional rubber belt in Kerala. There is an urgent need for dedicated trial in the northeast to promote rubber in pure blocks of one acre or more separated by blocks of existing natural vegetation or new plantations of trees bearing edibles and trees for other utilities chosen by the local communities. The farmers should be encouraged for intercropping under immature rubber plantations with tuber crops, legumes, etcetera to ensure food security and income during the long gestation period by linking subsidy to compliance of this planting model.

It is time one appreciates the reality that rubber, despite its apparent acceptance in the northeast, is not a natural choice. It is essentially a subsidy driven programme to meet a national objective that also helps the northeast. There have been other developments in respect of other plant resources. Technology for new generation value-added products from bamboo with a rapidly growing export market has put this tall grass in the center-stage for industrial development in the northeast, home to two thirds of the growing stock of bamboo in India. Economic growth based on bamboo will suit the social and cultural milieu and will be a prudent option for the ecologically fragile region. There would be other worthy farming and non-farming options suited to this region; and to write them off in favour of the alien rubber would be irrational.

In fine, there remains, with due regards to the great potential of rubber, a strong case for drawing up an inclusive futuristic land use plan for horticulture and plantation crops in the northeast by an expert group constituted by the NEC with members from the ICAR, Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, the Rubber Board, National Bamboo Mission, National Medicinal Plants Board and the Spices Board. Meanwhile, the present target for ten years for creation of rubber plantation in the northeast may be downsized right away by the Rubber Board in view of the constraints illustrated and to explore alternatives for optimal utilisation of uplands in the northeast for sustainable benefit.

State wise area under rubber in the northeast as in 2008-09 (Source: The Rubber Board):


State

Geog. area (km2)

Area suitable for rubber (ha)

Area planted (ha)

Arunachal Pradesh

83743

25,000

720

Assam

78438

200,000

23705

Manipur

22327

10,000

2380

Meghalaya

22429

50,000

7740

Mizoram

22081

50,000

735

Nagaland

16579

15,000

3515

Sikkim

7096

0

0

Tripura

10486

100,000

50070

Total

263179

450,000

88865


The author can be reached at achintyaksinha@gmail.com

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Feel free to surf to my site venus factor review [Adam]

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

A fresh coat of paint makes fall grime removal easier and improves operating effectivity through the season.

My web site; camoflauge backpack (Jame)

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Feel free to visit my blog post - Kerstin

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

It's like you read my thoughts! You appear to understand lots in regards to this, as
if you wrote the e-book in it or something. This is a fantastic blog.
I'll definitely be back.

Check out my website - plumber waltham ma (rebelmouse.com)

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Just wish to say your article is as astonishing.
The clarity for your publish is just nice and i could think you're knowledgeable on this subject.

Well together with your permission let me to grab your
feed to stay up to date with impending post. Thank you a million and please continue the enjoyable work.

Feel free to visit my weblog: weight loss supplements

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

I blog quite often and I really appreciate your content.
Your article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to
take a note of your blog and keep checking for new information about once a week.
I subscribed to your Feed as well.

Here is my web-site; Encante Serum Reviews

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Magnificent beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your website, how can i subscribe for a
blog website? The account aided me a acceptable deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of this
your broadcast offered bright clear concept

Visit my website :: USA Movies || Haunting Desires || Horror Movies

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Hi, I do think this is an excellent site.
I stumbledupon it ;) I'm going to come back yet again since i have
book-marked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change,
may you be rich and continue to guide other people.

Look into my blog; Jody Rookstool

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Si tú no gozas el humor ni te atreves a practicarlo, lo sentimos mucho, porque es una cualidad innata
imposible de aprender que por si fuera poco está
relacionada con la inteligencia y capacidad para solucionar inconvenientes.

Here is my website: gags network gratis, Serena,

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Superb post however , I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this topic?
I'd be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further.
Thanks!

Also visit my web blog; Beauty and Truth

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Howdy just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in your
article seem to be running off the screen in Opera.
I'm not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do
with browser compatibility but I thought I'd post to let you know.

The design look great though! Hope you get the problem fixed soon.
Many thanks

my webpage stephen rayment ericsson

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

my blog: Charlie

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Nice post. I used to be checking continuously this weblog and I am impressed!
Extremely useful information specifically the closing part :) I take care of such info a lot.
I was seeking this particular information for
a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.

Feel free to surf to my weblog ... social media for business

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Disse dager, investere alle slags mennesker i et alarmsystem,
ikke bare de med store eiendommer og dyre møbler og
eiendeler.

Feel free to surf to my webpage ... husalarm uten abonnement

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Quality articles or reviews is the crucial to interest the users to pay a
visit the web page, that's what this web page is providing.

Take a look at my web page; listen to this podcast - http://www.akademie.de/search/apachesolr_search/http%3A/%252Fwww.villacampodeifioribnbvarese.it/en/component/k2/itemlist/user/552403.html -

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

I am really enjoying the theme/design of your blog. Do you ever run into any web
browser compatibility problems? A couple of my blog
visitors have complained about my site not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Chrome.

Do you have any suggestions to help fix this problem?

My blog post ... 2016 Best Penny Stocks

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

All somebody typically needs to obtain a Cash Quick is proof of employment along with a valid
checking account Janet Jackson concert uk 2015 while an excellent hardship letter might
help, lenders really just want to know how the hardship's over and you also
can start paying them again.

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Over the years, the paparazzi has snapped shots of dozens of musicians, actors, and
models toting some of the fashion house. For those who love
to collect perfume and are going to want to add Gold by Kim Kardashian to
their perfume collection, the product launches with either a 50ml or 100ml bottle of eau de parfum.
network; which already earns Kim millions per season along with her numerous other business ventures (Kardashian Kollection, magazine covers, appearances her perfumes, etc').
The well-known red outsole and high heel both are wooden but
the distinct things about Christian Louboutin. Her
last name is Armenian and means "son of a stonemason.

Look at my homepage :: kim kardashian hollywood hack

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Wow, this piece of writing is pleasant, my younger sister is analyzing these kinds of
things, so I am going to convey her.

Look into my homepage ... mini prestamos

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

We aгe providing you with 100% Guaranteed ɑbout
оur аny hack software, &#1086ur аny game hack software ԝorks &#7457ith iOS/Android Gadgets.

&#5500ere іs mmy webpage: Gaame οf Wаr Fire Age Cheats (Natalie)

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

It is the best time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy.

I have read this post and if I could I want
to suggest you few interesting things or suggestions.
Perhaps you could write next articles referring to this
article. I wish to read even more things about it!

Here is my blog - effects of obesity

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Every weekend i used to go to see this web page, as i wish
for enjoyment, since this this web site conations actually good funny information too.

Here is my web site :: Infinite NO2

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Hello, its good paragraph regarding media print, we all be aware of media is a
fantastic source of facts.

Review my website: phatiewbyiya.com

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Hello to every , because I am truly eager of reading this web site's post to be updated on a regular basis.

It carries fastidious information.

Feel free to surf to my web site ... Ian Andrews Fraudster

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

In 2001, Liu and Wenzhou city, town, Yueqing City People's Government
and other people successfully held "China's first electric Culture Festival"
attracted attention across the country and the central leadership's attention. Even if you are new to the
anime scenes or you have been fascinated by this culture for a long time, the attire will be
a new one for you and for others whenever you wear
it. When possible, depending on the social and financial standing of the families,
the ceremony is held in a ballroom. If you're wearing a short black or red dress,
look into zebra striped heels. These gowns are specially designed for a slender body frame.
A seductive look, and of course a ideal chance to showcase
a properly toned shoulder. If you are in a wealthy family, you
will never lack of beautiful fabric.

Take a look at my blog post ... red dress boutique as seen on shark tank

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Created from costs, resilient fabrics, Timbuk2 has the best laptop computer knapsack, computer backpack, or commuter backpack to keep your laptop, iPad
annd various other essentials protwcted while giving you
accessibility when youu need it.

Look at my homepage - crossbody messenger bag for school (http://www.videobash.com/video_show/no-title-3715111)

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Hi to every body, it's my first visit of this blog; this blog
includes remarkkable andd actually good data designed for
visitors.

Visit my web-site :: Airport Transfer Luton (www.purevolume.com)

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Here is my webpage - Rosita

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Hello there! I could have sworn I've been to this website before but after looking at
a few of the posts I realized it's new to me. Anyways, I'm definitely pleased I found
it and I'll be book-marking it and checking back regularly!

my homepage alzheimers disease

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Discuss other types of weather patterns and appropriate clothing as well.
Nylon toys are very durable and tend to stand up to powerful chewing.

Celebrities scheduled to participate include Brenda Strong, Chiqui Delgado, Cindy Parsons, Fran Drescher, Gabby Douglas, Jamie Chung, Jillian Michaels, Kelly Osbourne,
Kendall Jenner, Kris Jenner, Kylie Jenner,
Minka Kelly, Nastia Liukin, Roselyn S. Before you turn your nose up, however, you
can make these delicate blouses edgier by layering them under the season. You're walking amongst
a wonderful crowd of people. Fashion with sarees is greatly influenced by Indian film industry and
bollywood actresses who wear them in movies. It
is appropriate, regardless of the setting, for your Christmas party attire to be one
step dressier than your normal office wear.

Feel free to surf to my page: mary wore her red dress activities preschool

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Wow, this piece of writing is fastidious, my sister is analyzing such things, therefore I am going to tell her.

Feel free to visit my web-site: Novus Anti Aging

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

kia ora
Allerdings können auch hier bei zu aggressivem Vorgehen Dellen entstehen, die mittels Transplantation von Eigenfett wieder aufgefüllt
werden müssen.

Also visit my blog post fettabsaugung kosten

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your web site and in accession capital to assert that I acquire actually enjoyed account your blog posts.
Anyway I'll be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access consistently quickly.

Feel free to surf to my web-site muscle building supplements gnc

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

rprwshmshn215ua When you ремонт стиральных машин Indesit
pauperization to squall your washing motorcar hangout man,
it is oftentimes because of unrivaled of these quartet problems:

Washing ремонт стиральных машин Zanussi auto is light the electrics.
This is normally this is caused by a job in the motor, the suppressor, or a defective telegram.

Don't endeavour to mending this subject yourself unless you
are a certified experient electrician. Another ground for this throne be
pee drip on galvanising parts.
Washing Auto is not spinning. The well-nigh belike rationality for this is a problem with the campaign belt
out. It could be loose and has ejaculate hit or is unkept.

Another grounds is a faulty drive.

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Take a look at my web blog; venus factor reviews, Henrietta,

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Visit my website - weight loss (Crystle)

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Here is my web blog :: the venus factor (Lucio)

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Also visit my website ... Jett

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Can you tell us more about this? I'd like to find out some additional information.

My web page :: More Material (rememberist.org)

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Hello, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you
get a lot of spam remarks? If so how do you protect against it, any plugin or
anything you can recommend? I get so much lately it's
driving me mad so any assistance is very much appreciated.

my weblog - global source labs garcinia

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Hi there! I could have sworn I've been to this web site before but after looking at
many of the articles I realized it's new to me. Anyhow, I'm
definitely delighted I stumbled upon it and I'll be book-marking it and checking back often!

Feel free to visit my blog post :: food for brain

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Feel free to surf to my homepage :: Nancee

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Feel free to visit my blog: Irvin

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Aw, this was a very good post. Taking a
few minutes and actual effort to create a really good article… but what can I say…
I hesitate a whole lot and never seem to get nearly anything done.

Here is my web-site perfect biotics

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Also visit my web-site; Alta

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Look into my homepage ... Ezequiel

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Look into my homepage venus factor diet plan and workout

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Besides cutting several holes on knitted sweaters and eye-catching tassel red shoes, Vivienne Westwood didn't used to much flamboyant ways this
season. Going with the pink territory, the newer designs of
the pink North Face jacket are in plush fabrics and satin-like quilting.
Dressing well is one thing a lot of women thing about a long time before December.
Take some time and prepare yourself for this special occasion. The way around your fashion dilemma ' power
up your LBD a notch or two with bright, colorful accessories.

Lounging does not occur at the local shopping center.

Here is my weblog what color hose should i wear with a black dress and red shoes

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

my web page ... Hubert

Reply to comment | The Tripura Foundation

Greate pieces. Keep posting such kind of information on your blog.

Im really impressed by your blog.
Hi there, You've performed a fantastic job. I will certainly
digg it and for my part suggest to my friends.
I'm confident they'll be benefited from this website.

Check out my homepage ... live american football streaming