The move to close down the regional offices of the Board in Kerala is being looked upon with great apprehension by the sector. Already three offices in Kothamangalam, Ernakulam and Kottayam have shut down. According to sources, the total number of offices will be reduced to 17 from 26 in the coming days.
A press note from the Board on Friday said that the Board is continuing its activities to make rubber cultivation remunerative by increasing production and productivity and reducing cost of cultivation and production. The Board has been implementing several activities at regional and field levels, with the active cooperation of Rubber Producer's Societies (RPSs), to increase production and productivity of plantations. Rubber Board has started this year's distribution of inputs, at subsidy rates, through the RPSs. This year, rain-guarding materials and spraying material are being supplied to the RPSs, through Board owned companies.
The annual mass contact programme of the Rubber Board for this year, aimed for the total excellence of the plantations will end on May 26. Until last week, 546 meetings were conducted at various places covering about 35,000 farmers. Practices such as weekly tapping, controlled upward tapping, rain guarding, online fertilizer recommendation, scheme for intercropping to be implemented in collaboration with Kerala state agricultural department and rubber tapper skill development programme under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) are being discussed in the meetings. Local impediments, if any, in adopting these practices will also be addressed.
The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has already approved the second phase for training another 22,000 persons in rubber tapping and processing in Kerala, Tripura, Assam, Tamilnadu and Karnataka, under PMKVY. The Board also has started a study in Kerala on the impact of the RPL training programmes already conducted in Kerala during first phase. The study is aimed to understand the improvement in quality of tapping and its direct impact in increase of productivity.