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Rubber farmers relieved as glove units may open

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A cottage industry in the outskirts of Perumbavoor making glovesKOCHI: The Centre’s decision to open glove-making units will provide the much-needed relief to rubber farmers, who have been left without income after the Covid-19 lockdown. As the glove units use rubber latex, the decision is expected to pave the way for the opening up of latex collection centres, numbering around 3,400 in the country. Of this, 2,400 are in Kerala.

“Around one month of latex stock will be with farmers. But the current prices are not encouraging,” said Satish Abraham, president of Latex Manufacturers Association. Before the lockdown, latex used to fetch around ?114 per kg, he said. After the lockdown, the physical trading of sheet rubber, used by the tyre industry, came to a grinding halt. The futures prices of sheet rubber hovered around Rs. 110 per kg last week compared with Rs. 125 per kg before lockdown.

There are 14 major glove-making factories in India, including two in Kerala. India depends mostly on cheaper imports to meet its demand of examination gloves. South East Asia, particularly Malaysia, is the global hub of glove manufacturing. Most Indian companies concentrate more on surgical gloves, as a result.

Kanam Latex Industries, leading supplier of gloves in the country, was able to resume partial operations in its Tamil Nadu units a week after lockdown with permission from the state government. “Since there is an increased demand after Covid-19 outbreak, we are forced to work at full capacity. After the lockdown, the imports have slowed down,” said Philip C Jacob, director of the company.

The company’s export came to a standstill in the past two weeks. This enabled it to make more for the domestic market. “As we cannot set up additional facility, we can meet the new orders only after fulfilling the earlier ones,” Jacob said. But gloves absorb about 15% of the latex production. “For the latex prices to go up, other manufacturers of sports goods, coir mattresses, balloons, catheters, condoms that use latex will have to resume operations fully,” Abraham said.


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