ERJ staff report (BC)
New Delhi, India – The state-run Indian Rubber Board is turning to the country’s rural employment guarantee programme to increase India's natural rubber output from the present 9 million tonnes per annum, reports Urmi Goswami of The Economic Times.
With rising global demand for rubber, the board is keen to extend the area under cultivation from the country’s present 700 000 hectares.
The board, which operates rubber plantation development and rubber development schemes in India’s north east, is facing shortages of funds and labour. To address these issues, its sponsoring commerce ministry has reached out to the rural development ministry to work out a plan to use the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme (MGNRE) to expand rubber cultivation.
The first six to seven years of a rubber plantation are labour intensive, notes the board, with around 1,500 man-days required per hectare. Most of the work is unskilled, but MGNRE would also support the appointment of managers.
"Convergence between the board's schemes and the rural employment programme is a practical and workable option, as their objectives are similar," a senior official involved in preparing the guidelines is reported as saying. "Both programmes seek to create durable assets and generate employment for vulnerable people in rural areas, particularly in socially disadvantaged communities, to improve land productivity and water conservation, and to put barren but cultivable land to productive use."
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Full story from Economic Times