The first ever World Rubber Congress will begin on Thursday in Kochi to discuss policy, trade, technology, challenges, and supply and demands of the sector.
The Congress to be attended by rubber farmers and traders will come out with a vision paper on how to expand and modernise the rubber plantations industry.
Some 300 leading rubber growers and industrialists are also expected to attend the Congress. The Mumbai-based Tefla's Conferences and Events is the Congress' principal organiser.
India's Rubber Board chairman S M Desalphine said the rubber conference is very significant for India because the country is the world's third largest producer and fourth largest consumer of natural rubber. India ranks fifth in production of natural and synthetic rubber. The country also is the largest manufacturer of reclaimed rubber.
According to the Rubber Board, exports from India exceeded 60,000 tonnes during 2003-04. Last year, India produced nearly 7,00,000 tonnes of natural rubber.
The Board expects production to be 9.5 per cent higher than last year's levels. The price of rubber has also increased in both domestic and international market, immensely benefiting hundreds of thousands of farmers.
Cultivation of natural rubber in India was introduced by the British, although the experimental efforts to grow rubber on a commercial were initiated as early as 1873 at the Botanical Gardens, Kolkata.
Rubber cultivation in India has been traditionally confined to the hinterlands of the southwest coast, mainly in the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Rubber is also grown in the hinterlands of coastal Karnataka, Goa, Konkan Region of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, the northeastern states, Andaman and Nicobar Islands etc.
The organizers said that the topics to be discussed include current trends and outlook, overview of global natural and synthetic rubber markets, challenges and opportunities for the tyre industry, World Trade Organisation implications, rubber futures trading, and investment opportunities and potential of natural rubber in Asia.Growers, plantation owners, processors, manufacturers of finished products, traders, research centres, financial institutions, policymakers and officials from central and state governments, as also machinery manufacturers and service providers are expected to participate.