Rains dent rubber output, imports to rise

‘NE monsoon to hit Nov. production’

India’s natural rubber production is likely to fall sharply in October and November, as heavy rains have been disrupting tapping activity in Kerala, the country’s top-producing State, industry officials said on Monday.

Lower production could force India to increase imports in the coming months, from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. “In October, we are expecting sharp drop in the production compared to September,” George Valy, president, Indian Rubber Dealers’ Federation, told Reuters.

India produced 67,000 tonnes of natural rubber in September, the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries estimated. Production is likely to be lower in November too, as the onset of northeast monsoon will bring heavy rainfall, but output will recover from December onwards, he said.

Kerala has received 117% more rainfall than normal so far in October, according to the weather department.

Supplies are constrained by labour shortage and heavy rainfall has made tapping even rain-guarded trees difficult, said a rubber dealer N. Radhakrishnan.

Rain guards are typically pieces of plastic that surround a tree’s trunk above the tapping panel. The slowdown in output has been forcing tyre makers to raise imports, which are cheaper than local supplies, he said.

India imported 46,000 tonnes of natural rubber in Septembercompared to 40,500 tonnes in August, ANRPC estimates.

The imports in October could rise above 50,000 tonnes asheavy rainfall has created big gap between demand and supply,Valy said.

Tyre makers are not running their operations at fullcapacity since demand from Original Equipment Manufacturers hasbeen affected by chip shortage, said a senior official with atyre company, who declined to be named.

“Auto sales are falling because of chip shortage. Thespillover impact has been affecting tyre and rubber producers aswell,” the official said.(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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