Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Business in Rubber nursery: what is the present trend?

         In Tripura, rubber is popular; therefore people are pursuing all out effort to start rubber plantation so is rapid increase of rubber plantation in the state. Increased numbers of people preferring to start rubber plantation has created demand for supply of more numbers of rubber seedling thus business opportunity in establishment of rubber nursery.

            Of course, there are many rubber nurseries available in the state located in all rubber growing belts but there’s no record of dedicated hi-tech and germplasm maintained rubber nursery in the state.
            There’s obvious demand for hi-tech and quality assured rubber nursery in the state.
            As mentioned, there’s demand for rubber seedlings so there’s mushrooming of rubber nurseries in the state however, there’s still opportunity for rubbery seedling business because there’s still room for further improvement in terms of size and quality parameters of existing and new rubber nurseries.
            This may be achieved by ensuring qualitative enhancement of rubber seedlings produced by the rubber nursery owners by maintaining quality check.
            By means of qualitative enhancement – it is through production of vigorous seedling through proper plant nutrition management and varietals authenticities. Varietals authenticities means – an intending buyer should have no issue of doubting while buying seedlings of rubber.  This should be ensured through authenticated records indicating type of bud wood used in producing the bud wood grafted rubber stamp. In Tripura demand for rubber seedling / stamp is observed in two distinct period one in the month from June to August and second, from March to May.
            As Rubber plantation is carried out with assured rainfall of south west monsoon which hit the state from the month of June therefore, maximum demand for rubber seedling is observed from the month of May onwards which continue up to August. Demand from the month of June to August is due to plantation of rubber stamp / poly bag seedlings in field while, demand for March to May is for raising of poly bag rubber seedling nursery.
            It is during those months the maximum activity of rubber growers are observed plying here and there in search of suitable rubber seedling with affordable rate. It is observed that rate of rubber seedling rises substantially during the month of July due to demand and supply situation.
            So far as demand for stamp and poly bag seedling is concerned, it is used based activity which necessitated out of preference due to success rate in field level plantation.
            Although, planting of rubber stamp directly to the field was the practice in earlier days however, there’s demerit too like missed out of some stamp in producing the shoot which however is gap filled through re-planting of rubber stamp in next year.
            But this gives another problem in producing uniform sized rubber tree.
            So to avoid this type of problem, poly bag raised seedling is preferred and popular now-a-day by most of the rubber growers. But it costs more compare to direct planting by rubber stamp.
            As mentioned, this demand for rubber seedlings coupled with lucrative rate has led many people to start rubber nursery as a side business for earning profit during rubber plantation season in the state.
            In general, Rubber Nursery doesn’t require anything extra except a site where rubber seedlings can be raised before planting to main field.
            In the nursery, owner is to perform raising of seedling, grafting and marketing of grafted rubber stamp or poly bag raised rubber seedlings.
            As well known fact, Rubber nursery is required because direct seed sowing is not applicable for raising of rubber plantation therefore, seed is sown in nursery and grafted stamp is produced before planting to either main field or poly bag. Therefore, to get good and productive rubber tree, seedling has to be produced through bud wood grafting from suitable mother plant and shoot raised out of that bud is the real and productive rubber tree which gives natural rubber latex.
            Bud wood grafting is in fact one of most crucial aspect that a grower has to ensure before planting of seedling to main field. Because, rubber tree produced without suitable bud wood grafting will not produce rubber latex so is total loss if accidentally it happens.
            In general, for establishment of rubber nursery, person interested should have the followings basic requirements:-
                        a. land either based or owned
                        b. Available seed supply in the locality
                        c. Bud wood nursery in the locality
                        d. FYM, Fertilizer, etc.
                        e. Skilled labour for grafting of bud wood
            Above are few requirement aspects for establishment of a new rubber nursery however, there are other requirement too like polythene / plastic sheet, knife and paraffin which will be required at the time of grafting and production of rubber stamp by the nursery owner.
            Below are the steps to produced rubber stamp:-

Different steps for production of bud wood grafted rubber stamp
Rubber stamp production
            Generally, in Tripura, people connected with rubber plantation establishes the rubber nursery sometimes person not connected but lives within the rubber growing belt and also person who sees business opportunity too establishes rubber nursery.
            There are already many small, marginal and medium sized rubber nurseries in the state but all of these are unorganized. It’s fragmented and segmented. Most of them can not be said as complete in all respect because of certain requirement like maintaining bud wood nursery is rare case in most of the case.
            Therefore, what happen is – many nursery owners do not get lucrative rate like other progressive nursery owner who has all connections and accessibilities in disposing their seedlings to the prospective buyers.
            What is desirable is – there should be some kind of mechanism to streamline all the nurseries available under an umbrella. Although it may seem practically not feasible all the time but it will definitely help both nursery owners and buyers in the process. However, this can only be done through the persuasion of the concerned department. Here, in Tripura, this can be done under the patronization of rubber board, Government of India the main body for natural rubber.
            What board may like to do is to give qualitative certificate to those nurseries who register or willing to register with the board and board shall in turn award qualitative or quality check certificate to such owners. What board will be looking into in assessing the quality will be up to the board to decide?
            But, by doing so – nursery owners can have the proof of authenticity of the seedlings produced by him which can help him in marketing of his seedlings.
            And, buyers will have lots of advantage as they can access the quality of the seedlings where he / she intend to purchase with the help of quality check certificate. That means there will not be an iota of doubt. There’s another aspect which is not in practice is water management through assured irrigation facility in the nursery.
            In Tripura, nursery irrigation is hardly maintained this is due to the fact that state receive fairly good amount of rainfall from the month of June to August and therefore most nursery owners rely on monsoon rain.
            However, keeping irrigation facility especially for the dry spell period during the month from February to May would be a good influencer for ensuring good growth of Rubber tree seedlings in the nursery.
            However, for raising of poly bag rubber seedlings, watering during the initial period of poly bagging of rubber stamp is must for ensuring uniform shoot growth of rubber stamp. This is when nursery owner consider for irrigation other wise irrigation is hardly followed. But these are the approaches, an easy going nursery owner can afford. What they feel is; anybody can start rubber nursery given the availability of all required inputs locally with minimum investment. Of course anybody can start owing to the availability seed material in cheap rate.
            However, having a medium sized rubber nursery would be investment worthy for the nursery owner looking to produce seedlings with the annual capacity of 100000 rubber seedlings. This would require investment of 800000 to 1000000 starting from leasing of land, creating irrigation facility, maintaining of bud wood rubber nursery, raising of seedlings, labour and raising of poly bag seedlings etc. This level of investment may be beyond the reach of many due to moderate involvement of fund for starting medium sized rubber nursery.
            However, with good project plan any one with good business intention can now avail bank loan too as now many rural bank branches and also the nationalized bank branches have come up in far flung areas of the state. Entrepreneurship people can have the facility ad start nursery business in now promising rubber sector.
            The present trend of rubber seedling business is buoyant so, there is less risk for people willing to start in rubber nursery business. As long as the rubber plantation sector thrives, there will be demand for rubber seedlings.
            But, rubber nursery owner should be good marketer too, he can’t afford to remain casual in approach, he will have to vigorously connect and find buyers for sale of his rubber seedlings to take the opportunity and remain competitive. While minimizing the production cost is desirable but, in most of the case, rubber nursery owners collect the suitable bud wood from some one who owns bud wood nursery which actually increases the production cost. Therefore, nursery owners should also have suitable bud wood nursery for meeting the requirement of his nursery.
            Because, nursery owners who buys the bud wood stem from the bud wood nursery owner while grafting of rubber seedlings has to incur unnecessary expenditure in the process of seedling production. While it may not be the factor for small nursery owner but when the nursery is big where number of seedlings is more then the nursery owners will have to incur considerable sum of money in purchasing the bud wood stem. This will naturally reflect to total production cost of the marketable seedlings. The in-seriousness of nursery owners by not maintaining bud wood nursery is exploited by certain section.
            Because bud wood nursery owner is also making business by charging 1’(one foot) of bud wood stem for rupees 5-10 containing approximately 8-10 numbers of bud for using in grafting of rubber seedlings.
            This is peculiar tendency, nursery owners due to psychological reason, don’t maintain bud wood nursery, whereas same can be maintained very easily in limited space. In bud wood nursery spacing between plants to plant is 4-5 feet and row to row in 5-6 feet. That means fairly good numbers of bud wood nursery trees can be maintained within limited space that would meet his nursery requirement.
            As far as marketing aspect is concerned, the present system is not robust, people depends on local demand while, it’s fine to meet local demand but eying for bigger market share in other parts would bring much more profitability in good business proposition.
            Buying of seedling is almost through local availability and connection which enables growers to select and buy rubber seedlings from the given nursery. If it’s available locally then go for locally produced other wise in neighboring locality.
            Marketing is through word of mouth by the nursery owner for influencing the prospective buyers.
            Awareness of buyers also factors in nursery business, this is because knowledgeable buyers will be looking into crucial aspects of rubber seedlings while, and less aware may not.
            They buyers generally see whether the seedling is bud wooded, and bud wood is perfectly grafted, and diameter of the seedling in case of rubber stamp purchase
            While incase of poly bag raised seedling – height of the seedling is considered along with number of leaves and leave steps and seedling with good vigor.
            Here, although ensured the bud wood grafting but there’s no question whether the grafted bud wood is genuine or not.
            Except, diameter of seedling / thickness and perfect bud wood graft for rubber stamp and height and age of seedling incase of poly bag raised seedling, no other quality parameters are hardly checked by almost all intending buyers at the time of purchase.
            In fact the most important aspect a buyer has to ensure is whether the bud wood had been grafted from desired quality of mother plant of good attributed character and, the grafted bud wood had genuinely been grafted from the bud wood nursery plants or not. These should be the most crucial and essential quality factors buyers should see while selection of rubber seedlings.
            But, here growers don’t have any choice, they have to go through believe and reputation of the nursery owner. Or, at best grower or buyers tries to get the information as to whether the nursery owner has bud wood nursery. If not, from where he collected the bud wood etc. that’s all a buyers can do in present system. It may be due to awareness or availability of the seedlings. But with the passage of time, there’s some kind of confusion as the fact of the matter is; very few nursery owners have bud wood nursery, who out source it from other nursery owners, this creates some kind of doubt to the intending buyers. May be doubt on authenticity could be the reason of doubt.
            Profit goes with size of nursery, by saying size, it means, numbers of marketable seedling do that nursery produce in a given year. And, also diversification in seedling production by keeping all options open by having both types of seedling viz: Rubber stamp and poly bag raised seedling. This will enable that no buyers is returned due to want of buyer’s option.
            Generally, a small nursery growers or owners grow up to 40,000-50,000 seedlings in raised nursery bed and this can well be maintained by any person with little investment but could earn substantial profit.
            By above example, a nursery owner’s prospective gross income could be within the range of 420000 to 525000 @ 15 per stamp if 70% total seedlings is grafted and sold in first year.
            When the seedling reaches pencil thickness or thump size, bud wood grafting is done selecting those suitable sized seedling in the first year itself.
            Generally, all the seedlings don’t attain suitable diameter in uniform level therefore staggered bud wood grafting is done phase wise in every year. That is – only suitable sized seedlings are chosen and remaining are left out for second year grafting. However, percentage of seedlings could be grafted depends on proper density in spacing and nutrition management.
            Therefore, nursery owners always tries to maintain the uniform growth of the seedling however, uniformity seems not the fact as some portion of seedlings still left out in the seed bed due to non-uniformed growth.
            For an example if a nursery owner grows 10,000 numbers of seedling in a given year, he can graft 70% of seedling in first year and by second year of course remaining he can graft 30% nos. of seedlings. But, after 3 (three) years no seedlings are considered for grafting due to increased girth and deepening tap root of the seedling.
            The grafted seedling can be useable for field level / poly bag planting 45-60 days after bud wood grafting however, grafted seedlings can be kept as it is up to one year period. Therefore, un sold grafted seedling in up rooted and damaged as non-useable seedlings.
            Generally grafting is done in May month and poly bag seedling is done in August, March month.
            In a year, grafting is done in the month of May-September. While grafting, care is taken that it’s not done during rainy days. The approximate cost of producing one stamp is 7:00 seven and 20-25 in case of raising of poly bag seedling. Seed collection is done from the matured rubber plantation and it is collected in the month of May. The collected seed is immediately stored in germination bed immediately where it is kept till rooting takes place. Pre-germinated seed is sown in raised bed of 4’ x 40’ feet size in the nursery bed.
            What it transpires is; there’s demand so is profitability. However to tap this demand and profitability in the nursery sector, a rubber nursery owner should have the strategic planning in executing all such steps that would enable him to remain afloat in the trendy rubber seedling business.
            In conclusion what could be advisable to the interested person in starting of rubber nursery business are as follows:
            1.         Basis set up of nursery
                        a) A suitable land
                        b) Creating of irrigation source
                        c) Plan for bud wood nursery
                        d) Available supply of rubber seeds
                        e) Selection of suitable rubber variety for bud wood nursery
                        f) Employing of skilled and un-skilled labour
                        g) Plan for inputs like FYN, fertilizer and chemical
            2.         Marketing aspect
                        a) Connection with all grows from the local as well as
                        b) Keeping good contact with the rubber board
            N.B.:    Spacing, anticipated involvement & profit and other recommendations may not reflect with actual package of practices.
            Your valued comment is requested in the comment box.