70K ha rubber plantation achieved afresh under INROAD project in NE in 3 yrs

Guwahati, Feb 23 (IANS) In a major boost to rubber plantation drive in the Northeast, nearly 70,000 hectares (ha) of land has been brought under natural rubber plantation under the Indian Natural Rubber Operations for Assisted Development (INROAD) project in three years, top Rubber Board officials said on Friday.

According to an official of Rubber Board, 70,000 ha represents one of the highest new plantations ever achieved in the mountainous northeast region in a block of three years.

He said that in tune with the spirit of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, INROAD, a project for supporting development of 2 lakh ha of rubber plantations in the northeast is being undertaken under active mentoring of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

The INROAD is the first such project in the world where the natural rubber consuming industry (tyre sector) has come forward to partner with government agencies and fund the plantation of Natural Rubber (NR).

Automotive Tyre Manufacturers Association (ATMA), the apex body of tyre manufacturers in the country, has collaborated with Rubber Board for the INROAD project, under which over three crore trees have been planted so far benefitting nearly 80,000 beneficiaries across 93 districts in northeastern states.

The INROAD project has led to rejuvenation of nurseries in the region. Currently the planting material is being procured from 81 certified nurseries.

ATMA Chairman Anshuman Singhania while addressing the seventh edition of India Rubber Meet (IRM 2024) in Guwahati on Friday said: “As against the target of 80,000 ha of plantation in the first three years of the INROAD project, nearly 70,000 ha or 86 per cent of the project target has been achieved despite post-Covid and logistics challenges.

“That is a testament to the commitment shown by 4 leading tyre companies in financially supporting the project and hard work of Rubber Board as the implementing agency,” he said.

Singhania said that the project entails socio-economic development of resource poor populations in these states.

Plantations in two lakh hectares will not only benefit nearly 2.5 lakh farmers and their families but comprehensive capacity building and skill training will transform the plantation sector for all time to come, he added.

Four member companies of ATMA — Apollo, Ceat, JK and MRF — are the financial stakeholders in the project. Rubber Board front ends the project by way of technical support and field level connect, ATMA Chairman said.

An official statement said that for the INROAD project, the industry has committed Rs 1,000 crore towards a new plantation of two lakh ha and another Rs 100 crore towards improvement in quality of Natural Rubber (NR) through best practices, skilling and training.

Out of a target of two lakh ha of new plantations under the project, the target for Assam is one lakh ha followed by Tripura at 30,000 ha.

“Generating employment opportunities and livelihood security for the marginal growers and uplifting the overall socio-economic status of the community is a key objective of the project. It was gratifying to note how the project has started making a difference on ground,” the statement said quoting Singhania.

India’s improved global ranking in the automotive sector augurs well for the stakeholder value chain, including the domestic tyre industry and NR sector.

However, the NR demand-supply gap in India continues to be high, the statement said, adding that at present, nearly 40 per cent of the NR requirement is met through imports.

It is estimated that by 2030, the country would require about 20 lakh tonnes of NR per year.

The INROAD project would help meet some of the growing requirements within the country.

The IRM 2024 is a major initiative of the Indian rubber industry to organise a regular forum for interaction, networking and exchange of information.

Rubber Board Chairman Sawar Dhanania delivered the theme address while Board’s Executive Director M. Vasanthagesan also spoke in the meeting.

The theme of India Rubber Meet 2024 was ‘Natural Rubber – Changing Landscape, Emerging Trends and Insights for Tomorrow’.

The two-day meet will deliberate upon global outlook on commodity sector, challenges and opportunities in NR sector, sustainability in the supply chain of natural rubber, perspectives of tyre and non-tyre industry, latest trends in the mobility sector, commodity prices, emerging trends in synthetic rubber among others.

Around 500 delegates from India and abroad are attending the meet.



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