INROAD rubber plantation project empowers over 90 lakh Northeast farmers

Pankhi Sarma

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Guwahati: Northeast India is witnessing a major rubber plantation success story in the form of the INROAD initiative that has brought on board around 98 lakh farmers and achieved plantation on 70,000 hectares in just three years with an investment of Rs 1,100 crores.

This is the biggest new plantation in the region in 3 years and the team behind it made it happen despite Covid-19 and logistical challenges, Business North East has learned.

Anshuman Singhania, chairman of the Automotive Tyre Manufacturers Association (ATMA) said that the project has already achieved 86% of its intended target. The Rubber Board, the implementing agency, and ATMA's member companies (Apollo, Ceat, JK & MRF) are the financial pillars supporting the INROAD project.

Singhania emphasized the industry's commitment of Rs 1000 crore towards new plantations spanning 2 lakh hectares and an additional Rs 100 crore dedicated to enhancing Natural Rubber (NR) quality through skilling and training.

                                                        Anshuman Singhania, Chairman, Automotive Tyre Manufacturers Association

Mohan Kurian, the INROAD NR project director, providing insights into the geographical distribution of the rubber plantation to Business North East, revealed that 50% of the land used in is Assam, 15% in Tripura, and 11% in Meghalaya. "The remaining Northeast states are also contributing to the initiative", Rajiv Budhraja, Director General of ATMA informed Business North East.

Nearly 98 lakh farmers have planted over 3 crore trees in the region. The project has also rejuvenated nurseries in the region, with planting material now being procured from 81 certified nurseries, this media outlet was informed.

Stressing the significance of the project, Singhania noted, "In tune with the spirit of Atmanirbhar Bharat, Indian Natural Rubber Organisation for Assisted Development (INROAD) is the first project in the world where the natural rubber-consuming industry collaborates with government agencies to fund NR plantation." The project is being mentored by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry.

Speaking to Business North East, Budhraja mentioned that rubber plantation projects by INROAD are being developed in Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur.

"The INROAD project is pivotal not only for its economic impact but also for its contribution to environmental  sustainability",  ATMA officals stated. "The project is transformative for the lives of people."

"The success achieved in the past three years bodes well for the ambitious target of expanding rubber-growing areas in the Northeast states by two lakh hectares within the next two years" Budhraja stated. "However, initially the target was 3000-4000 HA."

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Pankhi Sarma