The Philippine Trade & Investment Center, New Delhi (PTIC ND), in partnership with the Rubber Board and All India Rubber Industries Association (AIRIA), facilitated the visit of the members of the Philippine Natural Rubber Benchmarking Mission in India on 23-29 March 2014.

The 29-member delegation was headed by Mr. Sakiran Hajan, Regional Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao. Members included representatives from the private and government sector, local government unit and the academe. Coming from the private sectors were rubber producers, processors and manufacturers. The government sector was represented by DTI, the Department of Science and Technology, and the Office of the Provincial Agriculture of Basilan. The Honorable Municipal Mayors Jaime H. Mahimpit and Rene V. Rubino of Roxas and Arakan, North Cotabato represented the local government unit and professors from the University of the Philippines, College of Engineering and University of Southern Mindanao represented the academe.

In Kerala, activities included presentations by the Rubber Board officers, a tour of Rubber Research Institute of India's facilities, and visits to rubber nurseries, plantations, Rubber Producers Societies and smallholdings and Rubberwood processing plant. In Mumbai, a meeting with the Secretary General of AIRIA and a short presentation about the association and visits to the facilities of Indian Rubber Manufacturers Research Association (IRMRA) and a rubber machinery factory were initiated.

On the first day of the Mission, The Rubber Board officers gave presentations on topics such as the Indian rubber sector and the national policy of the Rubber Board which was presented by the Board’s Chairman, Mrs. Sheela Thomas; the rubber plantation development; rubber processing and product development; training; licensing and excise duty and Rubber Act/Rules; market promotion; statistics; and the research activities of the Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) which was presented by its Director, Dr. James Jacob.

The Rubber Board is a statutory body constituted by the Government of India, under the Rubber Act 1947, for the overall development of the rubber industry in the country. It is composed of 29 members coming from the Central government, local government units, representatives from the industries, and the labor sector. Its functions include the following: undertaking, assisting and encouraging scientific, technological economic research; providing trainings to improve methods of planting, cultivation, manuring and spraying; providing technical advice to the growers; improving the marketing of rubber; collecting data from the industry stakeholders; securing better working conditions and providing and improving the amenities and incentives of workers. Further, it is mandated to advise the Central government on all matters relating to the development of rubber industry, including the import and export of rubber; to advise the Central government with regard to participation in any international conference or scheme relating to rubber; to submit to the Central government and such other authorities as maybe prescribed, half yearly reports on its activities; and to prepare and furnish such other reports relating to the rubber industry as maybe required by the Central government from time to time.

Post lunch, which was hosted by the Rubber Board, and after the introduction of the officers of RRII, the members of the delegation were divided into two (2) groups for the tour of RRII’s facilities.

On the second and third days in Kerala, the delegation headed to Kanjirapally to visit rubber nurseries, Rubber Producer Societies, rubber smallholdings, rubberwood processing plant, and rubber plantations including that of India’s largest producer of rubber, Harrisons Malayalam Limited (HML) in Kumbazha. Being the industry leader in natural rubber production, HML is known for its high quality natural rubber in the local and export markets. HML has a total planted area of about 6000 ha which is spread over 10 estates. The company produces 8.5 million kilograms from its own area and processes another 1.5 million kilograms bought from neighboring holdings. Rubber though tapped as latex, is processed into various rubber products - a stabilized concentrated form of latex, smoked sheets, crepes and crumb/block rubber in a wide variety of grades.

On the first day in Mumbai, the delegation was received by the Secretary General of All India Rubber Industries Association (AIRIA), Mr. S. Jaikumar. He gave a brief presentation on the functions of the association.

AIRIA was established in 1945. It is one of the premier industries associations in India with its central office located in Mumbai and regional offices in New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, and Pune. AIRIA is composed of 1,200 members spread all over the country. It primarily protects and promotes the interest, growth and development of the Indian rubber industry. Its functions are as follows: to provide common fora for exchange of views amongst the members; to organize conference, exhibitions, trade delegations, factory visits, techno-commercial talks and other related activities; to investigate, collect and circulate information and statistics relating to the industry; to help the members in solving difficulties in raw materials procurement; to support and oppose legislative or other measures likely to affect the industry; and to disseminate information through the official organ, periodicals, circulars, etc.

Mr. Jaikumar also accompanied the delegation to visit one of the largest manufacturers and exporters of rubber processing machineries in India, the Bharaj Machineries Pvt. Ltd. In Vasai, Maharashtra.

On the following day, the delegation headed to the office of the Indian Rubber Manufacturers Research Association (IRMRA) in Thane, Maharashtra for a short presentation about the association and a tour of its facilities.

IRMRA was established in 1959 as a small-scale research and development institute. IRMRA has now become an internationally well known Centre of Excellence both for rubber and allied industries in India.

At present, IRMRA is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India, New Delhi. Over the last 50 years, IRMRA, supported by state-of-the-art facilities, has been providing remarkable services to rubber and allied industries such as polymer, paints, chemicals, textiles, etc. in India.

IRMRA is well known for its expertise in the fields of Testing and Investigations, Research and Products/Compound development, training and manpower development and consultancy services. It has also diversified its activities in the new sophisticated areas such as Nano and Latex Technologies as well as Rubber Engineering.

During the last day of the official tour, the delegation members discussed their learning and which best practices the Philippines could adapt from India.