Rubber Asia, a business magazine highlighted the views and opinions of Dr. Viswanathan P. K., Professor of Economics and Sustainability at Department of Management, Kochi, on the changing facets of the Indian rubber industry in the context of globalization in an exclusive interview published recently.
The interview focused on Dr. Viswanathan’s recent research study on ‘Globalization and its Impact on the Rubber Plantation and Industry in India.’ He pointed out that although the evidence reveals the growth of the Indian rubber manufacturing industry, the natural rubber production and processing sectors in the country are beset with several challenges in the context of globalization manifested by abysmally lower prices and high volatility, increasing imports of rubber and rubber products and the threat of substitution of natural rubber with synthetic rubber.
Dr. Viswanathan remarked that the changes in the global market seem to have adversely affected the domestic rubber production sector and the vast industry. The vastness of the rubber industry is typified by innumerable products classified as tyre and non-tyre, as well as latex-based products, and this is reflective of the extent of the value addition potential of the rubber industry.
The low price of natural rubber in the global market has adversely affected the Indian rubber farmers, the majority of whom are small and marginal producers owning less than 0.5 hectare area. The current lower prices have forced many rubber growers to either stop rubber tapping or cutting rubber trees to switch over to other crops. “This scenario as observed in Kerala is similar to what is reported from other countries like Vietnam and Indonesia, where farmers have been felling trees and switching over to more lucrative options like oil palms, orchards or real estate,” Dr. Viswanathan pointed out.
Rubber Asia magazine also highlighted some points from a study by Dr. Viswanathan P. K. in 2016 in which he suggested some major steps that should be taken to meet the challenges and complexities faced by the rubber sector in India.