Chennai, May 06, 2016: A couple of months ago I had written about the hardship caused to the growers of natural rubber in Kerala as a result of low price. Currently rubber farmers are experiencing considerable price improvement. But unfortunately their hopes for higher production will depend upon monsoon behaviour. Extreme heat and drought will reduce the production of latex. In this context, we should take two steps to achieve price stability. First, as suggested by me in a report about 10 years ago, the Governments of Kerala and India, should jointly establish a Price Stabilization Fund. Secondly, drought tolerant and climate smart clones should be planted, while taking up new plantings. The Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) at Kottayam has developed drought tolerant strains of natural rubber through genetic modification. Because of their GMO origin, they have not been approved for field trials. We should permit field trials since such clones can be of immense value in an era of climate change. Also, the area under natural rubber can be increased in Northeast India with such clones. Natural rubber is one of our greatest assets and through a combination of technology and public policy we should be able to achieve sustainable production and price stabilisation.
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) established in 1988 is a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan, agriculture scientist with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987.