Time ripe for upgrading
Thomas Robert Malthus, a demographer and economist of English origin who lived in the 18th and 19th centuries, earned his place in history by postulating the famous theory that while food supply increases in arithmetic progression, population surges forward in geometric progression. The gist of his theory is that unless steps are taken for controlling growth of population, a situation will soon arise wherein adequate food is not available to meet the requirements of the people living on this planet. Malthus made this prophesy a few years before the end of the 18th century when the world population was in the range of one billion. However, though the world population has increased by more than seven times since then during the next two centuries, the shortage of food that Malthus predicted did not occur.
Malthus was proved wrong by the development of technology which helped to produce increased quantities of food grains sufficient to meet the demands of the populations of the times. Thus food production was able to keep pace with spurt in population only because of development of new varieties of seeds, more potent fertilisers, better farming techniques, including mechanisation of farming, and improved methods for transportation and storage of food grains. The development and employment of new and modern technology to all segments of food production cycle helped the farmers as well since they were able to get a better price for their produce, prompting them to invest more time, efforts and resources into farming. It was the combined effort of the scientists, who developed new innovations and methods, and the farmers, who employed them, that helped to disprove the postulations of Malthus.
Natural Rubber segment should also take home an important inference from the instance cited above as the same applies to this sector as well. The methods traditionally developed by the scientists and employed by the farmers have been, without doubt, very good ones. But there comes a time when the output hits a plateau, which is the signal for thinking about an upgrade. The methods employed in natural rubber farming right from collection to seeds to the processing of latex into sheet rubber have benefitted the farmers but, of late, the returns have been diminishing at a rapid pace. This is the first indication that time is ripe for upgrading all segments of the natural rubber value chain in order to improve productivity, minimise cost of production, thus increasing the income of the individual farmer.
Recent measures launched by Rubber Board have been named at achieving the twin goals of increasing productivity and bring down cost involved in production. The development of Genetically Modified plant and the initiation of field trials using this is another step in this direction. If successful, this plant, with superimposed Manganese Superoxide Dismutase gene, will act as the harbinger of a dramatic change, making rubber trees resistant to stresses brought about by extremes of climate. This will be of utmost importance in an era when changes in weather and climatic pattern pose a challenge not only to farmers but to entire populations as well.
The Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII), under the Rubber Board has successfully decoded the entire genome sequence of rubber. This is a remarkable achievement as this information will help break the yield ceiling in this species and also help to develop climate-resilient smart clones with better tolerance to diseases and improved regional adaptability faster and more efficiently.
I congratulate the scientists of Rubber Board, both serving and retired, whose untiring efforts made this achievements possible.
Dr. K.N. Raghavan
Executive Director, Rubber Board
The Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) was established in 1955. The Institute has attained a prestigious position in the international rubber scenario through its research contributions. RRII is a member of the International Rubber Research and Development Board (IRRDB) and actively participates in many international research programmes. RRII has played a significant role in India achieving high productivity.
The headquarters of RRII is located on a hillock, 8 km east of Kottayam town in Kerala State with a research farm attached to it. The nearest airport is at Nedumbassery, Kochi, 100 km north.
The Central Experiment Station of the Institute is located at Chethackal (Ranni) 50 km away from Kottayam. To conduct location specific research, the Institute has established a research complex for North East India with headquarters at Agartala and having regional research stations at Agartala in Tripura, Guwahati in Assam and Tura in Meghalaya. RRII has also set up regional research stations at Dapchari (Maharashtra), Kamakhyanagar (Orissa), Nagrakatta (West Bengal), Paraliar (Tamil Nadu), Nettana (Karnataka) and Padiyoor (Kerala). Soil and leaf testing laboratories have been established at Kottayam, Tripura, Thaliparamba, Kozhikode, Thrissur, Muvattupuzha, Palai, Kanjirappally, Adoor and Nedumangad. Mobile units for soil and leaf analysis are available at the headquarters, Tripura, Kozhikode, Muvattupuzha and Adoor.
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Last reviewed and updated on 29-Jul-2021