- Recently, the world’s first Genetically Modified (GM) rubber plant developed by Rubber Research Institute was planted in Assam.
- The rubber plant is the first of its kind developed exclusively for this region, and is expected to grow well under the climatic conditions of the mountainous northeastern region.
- It is headquartered at Kottayam, Kerala, under the administration of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- The Board is responsible for the development of the rubber industry in the country by assisting and encouraging research, development, extension and training activities related to rubber.
- Rubber Research Institute is under the Rubber Board.
- Genetic modification (GM) technology allows the transfer of genes for specific traits between species using laboratory techniques.
- The GM rubber has additional copies of the gene MnSOD, or manganese-containing superoxide dismutase, inserted in the plant, which is expected to tide over the severe cold conditions during winter in the northeast.
- The MnSOD gene has the ability to protect plants from the adverse effects of severe environmental stresses such as cold and drought.Need:
- Natural rubber is a native of warm humid Amazon forests and is not naturally suited for the colder conditions in the Northeast, which is one of the largest producers of rubber in India.
- Growth of young rubber plants remains suspended during the winter months, which are also characterised by progressive drying of the soil. This is the reason for the long immaturity period of this crop in the region.
- Commercial Plantation Crop: Rubber is made from the latex of a tree called Hevea Brasiliensis. Rubber is largely perceived as a strategic industrial raw material and accorded special status globally for defence, national security and industrial development.
Conditions for Growth: It is an equatorial crop, but under special conditions, it is also grown in tropical and sub-tropical areas.
- Temperature-Above 25°C with moist and humid climate.
- Rainfall-More than 200 cm.
- Soil Type-Rich well drained alluvial soil.
- Cheap and adequate supply of skilled labour is needed for this plantation crop.
- The British established the first rubber plantation in India in 1902 on the banks of the river Periyar in Kerala.
- India is currently the sixth largest producer of NR in the world with one of the highest productivity (694,000 tonnes in 2017-18).
Top Rubber Producing States: Kerala > Tamil Nadu > Karnataka.
- Rubber Plantation Development Scheme and Rubber Group Planting Scheme are examples of government led initiatives for rubber.
- 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in plantations of rubber, coffee, tea, cardamom, palm oil tree and olive oil tree.
- Major Producers Globally- Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, China and India.
- Major Consumers- China, India, USA, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.
SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT