With rubber prices holding steady, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh have shown interest to begin rubber plantations, the Rubber Board chief said Thursday.
"One main reason why these two states have shown interests in taking up planting rubber is the good steady price. Over the years rubber plantations have come up in states like Maharashtra, Karnataka and Odisha," Rubber Board chairperson Sheela Thomas told reporters here.
Since the beginning of this decade, rubber prices have risen dramatically, from Rs.31 a kg to Rs.178 now.
"In Odisha, there are three rubber growing districts. Some other districts also have shown keen interest. Goa took up rubber plantation long back and likewise the districts adjoining Goa are also potential areas," she said.
"Barring Sikkim, all the other northeastern states have taken up rubber cultivation in a big way, with Tripura having 60,000 hectares followed by Assam," added Thomas.
Kerala accounts for 78.20 per cent of the area under rubber in the country with a total coverage of 5.34 lakh hectares (2010-11). And here too, with rising prices, there has been an increase of area under rubber cultivation. In 2009-10, some 8,822 hectares came under rubber plantaion.
The Kerala capital will host an international rubber conference and also the annual meeting of the International Rubber Research and Development Board from Oct 28 to Nov 2.
Over 400 delegates from 20 rubber growing nations would take part in the meeting.
One of the main topics that will come up for discussion at the conference is mechanisation in rubber plantation.
"Kerala today has severe shortage of rubber tappers and over the years numerous attempts to develop a mechanised rubber tapping knife has not yielded the desired success, even internationally. In Malaysia, there was one that was developed but the cost of it was a prohibiting factor," said Thomas.
"We will provide a handsome reward if someone comes out with a prototype of a mechanised rubber tapping knife," she added.