An all party delegation from Kerala will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to apprise him of the problems faced by rubber farmers in the state, Agriculture Minister V S Sunilkumar informed the Assembly today. The minister stated this while replying to a submission of KC-M leader K M Mani on the Centre's reported move to close down regional offices of the Rubber Board in the state. "The government does not agree with the Centre's move to close down, merge and reduce staff strength of rubber board offices in the state," Sunilkumar said. The state government would convene a meeting of rubber growers to discuss all issues related to rubber, he said adding an all party delegation would also meet the prime minister to submit a memorandum. Taking up the issue, Mani said there were 24 regional offices of the Rubber board and the centre was closing them down one by one. Kerala produces 90 per cent of the total rubber production in the country and there are 12 million rubber farmers in the state, Mani said. Congress MLA K C Joseph also wanted the Centre to withdraw from its move to close down rubber board offices in the state. Already regional offices at Kothamangalam, Ernakulam and Kottayam have been closed, he pointed out. Centre had also already cut subsidy and allowances due to rubber farmers in the state, he alleged. Rubber farmers in the state were also facing an economic crisis due to the sharp fall in prices of natural rubber, he said.
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