India is the fourth largest producer of natural rubber accounting for 6.5 per cent of the total world production. There has been phenomenal increase in the area and production of the rubber during last 45 years (1950-5 1997-98).
The area has increased from 56,000 ha to 365,000 ha at an average annual rate of 11.7%, while the production has grown from 15,800 tons to 550,000 tons at an average annual rate of 72% (Table 11 .VII). Kerala has almost monopoly in rubber production accounting for 94% of the country’s output.
Kerala is the foremost producer of natural rubber accounting for 89.21 per cent of the total area and 91.68 per cent of the total production of rubber in the country (Table 11.VIII). Kottayam, Kozhikode, Ernakulam and Kollam districts are the main producers. Most of the production is raised from small holdings (less than 2 ha). There has been rapid increase both in the area and production of the crop during last three decades.
Tamil Nadu contributes 3.43 per cent of the total area and 3.39 per cent of the total production of rubber in the country. Here bulk of the production comes from the Nilgiris, Madurai, Coimbatore, Kanniyakumari and Salem districts.
Karnataka is the third largest producer of natural rubber in the country (area 2.70%, production 2.16%). Here Chikmagalur and Coorg districts are the main producers.
A small production of rubber also comes from Tripura, Assam, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Goa. Similarly its cultivation is also being promoted in non-traditional areas like Maharashtra, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Orissa.
India’s production of natural rubber is not sufficient to meet its internal demands. Deficit is met by manufacturing synthetic rubber at Bareilly and Vadodara, as well as import from Malaysia and Indonesia. In 1960-61 India imported 36.2 thousand tones valued at Rs. 11 crores which grew up to 105.1 thousand tones and Rs. 226 crores in 1990- 91,113.6 thousand tones valued at Rs. 630 crores in 1996-97 and 218.71 thousand tones valued at Rs. 1290 crores in 2003-04. Recently there has been sharp increase in the price of rubber in international market. The Indian Rubber Board is trying to introduce its cultivation in nontraditional areas and improve per hectare yield to reduce the burden of import.