Wednesday, 27 February 2013

An account with first time Rubber Grower


        Rubber is profitable, profitability motivated people to learn and adopt fast. Rubber board inspired many; their package of practices is the life line of success but few follows with slight deviation.
            Let us see what a new and first time rubber grower is say and share his experience.
            The grower is fairly educated and well conversant with rubber scenario of Tripura.
Q.1.   When did you actually plan for starting of rubber plantation?
    A.  Well, I’ve been planning for establishing of rubber plantation from last couple of years but could not start due lack of land.
Q.2.   So when did you practically started rubber plantation.
   A.   Being lucky to be gifted with more than 1(one) hectares (7.00 Kani) of land by my closest relative, I’ve practically started during first week of February, 2012.
Q.3.  What is the size / area of land in terms of usability.
   A.  As I said, 7.00 Kani (more than 1.00 ha) where the land was fully suitable for taking up of plantation …. Means there was no steep slope that might have been avoided as non-useable.
Q.4.  What is the type of land and vegetation if any?
   A.  The land was fairly covered under thick vegetation with sparingly large sized trees. Typically, 1/3 of the total land is of valley type and 2/3 hilly with gentle slope.
         Means, approximately 0.3 hectare of land is valley type and 0.7 hectares hilly.
Q.5.  In the given portion of land, how many rubber seedlings have been planted and what is the appropriate numbers as far as Rubber Board is concerned?
   A.  I’ve planted 650 nos. of poly bagged rubber seedlings in the given land area.
      In so far as Rubber Board guideline is concerned, I suppose it is within the range of 480 to 500 seedlings per hectare (little confused).
Q.6. For success of plantation, quality seedling is must. Where did you buy the poly bagged seedlings as there are many firm / agency / people who are raising rubber seedlings for sale?
  A.  I’ve sourced all the seedlings from Bishalgarh under Sipahijala district of Tripura, India.
     I’ve confirmed myself that the agency is certified by the Rubber Board and in fact rubber board is also happen to be sourcing seedlings from that agency where I’ve bought.
Q.7. There have been lots of interest in rubber but I think very few people know the available rubber variety / selection or hybrid. Do you have any knowledge as to what variety of rubber seedlings you’ve planted?
   A.  (Confused). I suppose, I’ve planted either 600 or 800 series but not hybrid one.
Q.8. Success in terms of field level seedling survivality largely depends on the age of rubber seedling. What was the age of seedling did you consider for your project?
   A.  I didn’t get all the 650 nos. seedling of uniform age, I’ve bought 500 nos. and 150 nos. ploy bag raised seedling of 1(one) year and 6(six) months respectively.
Q.9. When did you actually planted the rubber seedlings in field?
   A. I considered rainy season so, I’ve waited for the month of June 2012 and completed the whole planting process by the month of June 2012 itself and exposed the transplanted seedlings in the showering rainy season.
Q.10. There’s common blame that many rubber growers don’t follow exact spacing guidelines of the Rubber Board resulting of dense / over population of seedlings in the unit area.
       Did you follow any such guidelines and what spacing did you keep for plant to plant and row to row?
 A.  (Little confused). He seems to have forgotten the spacing he maintained saying “I kept the distance of 20 feet by 20 feet in plant to plant and 20 feet by 20 feet in between the two rows”.
        He further stated “as per rubber board, ideal spacing is 18 feet between two rows and 22 feet between two seedlings in sloppy area”.
Q.11. Ensuring good growth of the seedling, pit of ideal dimension is advocated. Pit size of 2’.5” x 2’.5” x 2’.5” is followed. Your take on the pit size?
   A.   I’ve deviated considering that land is virgin and fertile and maintained the pit size of 2’x2’x2’.5”.
Q.12. During the initial stage of establishment, especially in 1st year, maintaining the tender seedlings is headache to the rubber plantation owner due to livestock like cattle, goat, etc.
       What type of preventive measure did you take for your new plantation?
  A.  I’ve taken up bamboo based fencing coupled with nylon net because, availability of cheap bamboo is scare which is some how supplemented by nylon net.
Q.13. In the sloppy hills, terracing across the slope is the practice. Did you take up any terracing work?
   A.  I didn’t. I didn’t consider because of gentle slope however, I may consider in next year.
Q.14. So, by now your plantation is of 1(one) year old.
   A.   No, 9(nine) months.
Q.15. In case of rubber, one of the biggest headache for any plantation owner is weeding. In fact, weeding takes whopping sum in the whole raising process of rubber plantation.
      Your plantation is 9(nine) month old, how many times did you take up weeding works within this period?
   A. (eyes wide open) 5(five) times still counting. “Continuous shower during rainy season is ensuring profuse growth of weeds”.
Q.16  Application of chemical herbicide quietly reduces and manages weeds growth, and there are many such chemicals available in the market.
        Another standard approach is facilitating the cultivation and growth of  mucona in the plantation area for suppressing the growth of other unwanted weeds.
       Did you consider application of chemical herbicide and also mucona cultivation.
   A.  Well, I’ve not considered or thought for any chemical means of weed management and I don’t have any clear idea in such aspect to be honest.
       So far as mucona, it’s un-tolerable due to it’s substance to the plantation workers therefore, I’ve also not considered going for mucona cultivation.
Q.17. Uprooting or breakage of full grown rubber is quite common due to storm. If there is one breakage or uprooting of full grown rubber tree then it is a cumulative loss to the plantation owners.
      There have been news that cyclone has completely damaged the whole plantation causing huge loss to the rubber plantation owner.
     To prevent or minimize the damage due to storm, plants like Gravelia robusta is planted across.
      Did you employ any such measures?
   A.   I’m aware of the fact and planning to take the appropriate measure to avoid any such eventualities.
Q.18. Coming to the expenditure part in the process of new plantation, what was the rate of each poly bag raised seedling and how much did you spend towards purchase of 650 nos. rubber tree seedling?
   A.  I’m lucky to get in affordable rate of  43/- (rupees forty three)per seedling compare to prevailing rate of  53-55/-(rupees fifty three to fifty five) per seedling.
      My total expenditure towards purchase rubber tree seedling was  29,900/- (rupees twenty nine thousand nine hundred in Indian currency).
Q.19. Other field preparation starting from of clearing of jungles and planting of seedlings take lots of money and these are also major share of expenditure towards establishment of new rubber plantation.
      There is bound to be cost escalation in the prevailing condition where labour (un skilled) wages has increased.
      Your comments on this part?
   A.  I’ve been lucky enough to get and employ workers within affordable range compare to other places. The fact is, I could complete all these work within  15,000/- (Rupees fifteen thousand in Indian currency).
Q.20. You said, your land was fertile enough to support the growth rubber tree although, rubber board has good measures in nutrition parts through application of farm yard manures and other popular chemical fertilizers.
       Did you use farm yard manure and chemical fertilizers in the pit of the rubber seedlings?
   A.   I didn’t use chemical fertilizers so there was no cost involvement in this aspect.
        I did use farm yard manure but I don’t think I’ve used required quantity of farm, yard manure.
        I’ve locally arranged the farm yard manure but transportation cost me dearly although cost of farm yard manure was very minimum but it costs me  6,000/- (Rupees six thousand).
Q.21. One very important aspect of utilization of Rubber land is through inter crop but in Tripura, it’s quite common to see that no other crop is grown in the wide spaced vacant land during initial years of rubber plantation.
        What’s your comment on the issue and your suggestion?
   A.  Yes, it’s common that very few rubber growers utilize the land in between the seedlings which other wise can be used in growing of many annual crops.
        I’ve fairly utilized though not whole vacant land in inter cropping.
Q.22. What types of crop did you grow as inter crop in your new rubber plantation?
    A. As I said, 1/3 of the total land being valley type, I’ve made use of this land in growing different vegetable etc.
                        a. Maize
                        b. Pumpkin
                        c. Pigeon pea
                        d. Brinjal
                        e. Beans
                        f. Musk melon
                        g. Cucumber
                        h. Ginger
                        i. Turmeric
                        j. White gowrd
       I’m happy to say that it has supplied lots of fresh vegetable for my family, in fact other people also benefitted as I’ve supplied them too.
         Interestingly, I’ve also produced substantial quantities of Maize, Pigeon pea, Brinjal which I’ve sold in local market too.
         And, there are still many crops like Ginger and Turmeric which are yet to be harvested in addition to pigeon pea which continue to provide green pods for fresh consumption.
Q.23. Little different aspect but it’s important irrespective of any endeavor people take up – who inspired or motivated you to take up the rubber plantation?
    A.  I said, I’ve been planning for since couple of years ago. My interest or motivation might be due to my association with Rubber Board Officer with whom I came in contact years ago while working in other parts of the state.
        So, I can say, I’m influenced or inspired some how by the officer who kept on discussing good part of the natural rubber.                                                                                             
Q.24. As educated person, your action is supposed to be calculated one what I want to know is – why did your choose rubber in place of other popular horticulture crops?
   A. Considering the trends in the natural rubber market with respect to demand, lucrative price and profitability, I’ve choosen rubber over other crops.
Q.25. If profit is motive so, what is your expectation of profit from the plantation when your rubber tree starts production after 6-7 years?
   A. I’m expecting  20,000/- to  25,000/-  per month excluding all other production cost through sale of dried rubber sheets.
Q.26. Rubber takes long time to reach the productive stage like 7-8 years or say 7 years so it has long gestation period.
      Managing long gestation period is sometime very trouble some, what is you opinion and how do you plan effectively for this long gestation period.
   A. (confident) it doesn’t matter, I’ve learned to manage these long years of planting to actual production gap.
        Well, plantation owner will have to be busy the entire time for managing the plantation. So, there’s less time for pondering.
     Considering the future prospect and utilizing of land with other intercrops do not give me anytime for hurdle or difficulty.
       I’ve already planned to take up Sabri Banana cultivation in my rubber plantation.
Q.27. Coming back to the prospective part of the natural rubber, what is your expectation of getting yield from your given size of plantation.
   A. I expect (calculating) approximately 3780 kilograms of marketable dried rubber sheet per year from my plantation.
Q.28. All are behind rubber, do you think viability of rubber will remain same say in 30 years from now?
   A. (Referring to the discussion with rubber board officer) It can’t be stated / said what will happen in 30 years time but considering the rapid growth of rubber plantation, it might be in nearing completion stage when all plantations (new) are registered.
       (Referring discussion) ….. rate per kilogram of dried rubber sheet may shoot up to  850/- per kilogram by the year 2020.
Q.29. So, do you advice your friend, well wishers to go for rubber plantation?
    A.  Yes, I keep on advising people not to waste the land and use in productive purpose.
Q.30. You have been in the business what could be the total involvement of fund for raising of one hectare rubber plantation?
   A. If you are the possessor of the land, means, when there’s no expenditure for buying land for rubber plantation then I suppose, the raising cost would be around ` 1,30,000/- to ` 1,50,000/-.
        It may exceed if you follow every minutiae details of rubber board.
        This is what new grower has to speak. He is some where quite advance in taking the right decision and approach, and deviated in some cases.
        Nevertheless, his over all approach is quite interesting for any new growers see and learn.
      Let us see what rubber board guideline says as far as scientific rubber plantation is concerned in next series.
       Your feedback / comment are requested in the comment box.