Creeping Up

Prices for crepe rubber have reached record levels as oil prices spiral, touching Rs. 129 a kilo at this weeks auction, a high since 1995.

This is up from crepe prices of Rs. 102 in Dec 2002. Crepe rubber is used as a substitute for synthetic rubber, which uses petroleum products.

An agreement to cut output by rubber producing countries Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia last year by 10 percent, also helped firm up prices from the low Rs 52 in December 01.

Grades of RSS 1 sheet rubber have also reached Rs. 84 a kilo in 2002, with ministry forecasts that this could go up to Rs. 150 in the near future.

Export volumes have also jumped as a result to 35,016 MT last year from 35,951 in 2001, taking earnings to Rs 2516mn, a Plantation Ministry release said Thursday.

Improved earnings have also boosted production volumes to 90,518 MT, with acres of underutilized land coming back into production.

Available production lands went down from 171,128 acres in 1982 to 157,100 in 2001 on the back of falling prices and low yields.

Many of these lands were taken over for tea and coconut, which saw rapid growth in the following years.