Natural rubber production and prices have been hit hard by the pandemic-induced lockdown; coconut, however, has not been adversely affected. Prices of various grades of rubber fell by 10-20% in the May-August period due to the lockdown’s impact. The contrasting fortunes of natural rubber and coconut — Kerala’s two dominant agricultural commodities — are reflected in a detailed analysis of production and prices by D. Narayana, former director, Gulathi Institute of Finance and Taxation. In January 2020, production of natural rubber was 10% higher compared with a year earlier. But in April, output dropped by 53% largely on account of the lockdown. Though prices of natural rubber witnessed a slight fall in the latter half of 2019, they continued to remain high till March 2020. However, the price of latex shows a different pattern. While the price in 2019 had shown steep increases till October, the fall has been steady since then. The lockdown accentuated the decline, as per the study.Pandemic proofUnlike natural rubber, coconut was not adversely affected by the pandemic. While the months of May to July 2019 reported prices 20% lower than the peak prices in the year, during the same months in 2020, the prices remained relatively high.
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