India’s rubber production hit by heavy rains in Kerala

India’s natural rubber (NR) production is expected to drop sharply in October and November, as heavy rains have been disrupting tapping activity in the country’s top NR producing state, Kerala.

With production dipping India, the world’s second-biggest consumer of natural rubber, may have to increase imports in the coming months from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, supporting global prices.

India has produced 67,000 tonnes of natural rubber in September, estimates the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC).

However, for October and even in November the production is estimated to be lower, as the onset of the north-east monsoon will bring heavy rainfall, but the output will recover from December onwards, said ANRPC.

Kerala received 117 per cent more rainfall than normal so far in October, according to the weather department. The supplies are constrained by labour shortage and heavy rainfall has made tapping even rain-guarded trees difficult. Rain guards are typically pieces of plastic that surround a tree’s trunk above the tapping panel. The slowdown in production has been forcing tyre makers to increase imports, which are cheaper than local supplies. India imported 46,000 tonnes of natural rubber in September compared to 40,500 tonnes in August, ANRPC estimates. The imports in October could rise above 50,000 tonnes as heavy rainfall has created a big gap between demand and supply.

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