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From Boom to Bust, the Bitter Story of Kerala's Rubber Growers/Tappers

Closeup of a Rubber plant in a plantation - image tries to explain the Bitter Story of Kerala's Rubber Growers/Tappers

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Dive into the compelling tale of Kerala's rubber industry – from booming heights to the challenges faced by growers and tappers. Uncover the complexities that shape the bitter story. Read more!

Imagine a sea of emerald hills dotted with towering trees, their bark weeping milky white "tears"that's Kerala, the land of rubber, once dubbed "green gold." But beneath the postcard beauty lies a story etched in sweat, struggle, and resilience – the story of Rubber Growers or Rubber Tappers as they are commonly referred to.

Boom Times and Bust:

Rubber was Kerala's shining star for decades. In the 70s and 80s, it fueled a golden age – mansions sprouted, fancy cars zoomed, and young people eagerly took up tapping, dreaming of a bright future. But like a fickle friend, the market shifted. Synthetic rubber emerged, global prices plummeted, and the green gold lost its luster.

The Harsh Reality:

Today, many families who built their lives on rubber face a harsh reality. Incomes have shrunk by 50-70% compared to peak times, with tappers earning as little as ₹300-500 per day. Young people, seeking better prospects, migrate to cities, leaving aging communities grappling with uncertainty.

Beyond the Dripping Sap:

But don't write them off just yet! These folks are showing incredible resilience. They're diversifying, planting pepper, nutmeg, and other crops alongside rubber. Some are creating value-added products like natural rubber sheets, fetching better prices. Women are forming self-help groups, learning new skills, and even venturing into eco-tourism.

Challenges Persist:

The road ahead is bumpy. Middlemen still exploit the system, pocketing unfair profits. Climate change throws curveballs with erratic rainfall and diseases. Government support, though improving, often falls short. In 2022, the government announced a minimum support price of ₹250 per kg, but market prices often dip below, leaving tappers vulnerable.

A Glimmer of Hope:

Despite the hardships, the spirit of the rubber growers shines through. Their grit, adaptability, and community spirit offer a beacon of hope. Maybe not mansions and luxury cars, but a dignified, sustainable livelihood is their new dream.


This is just a glimpse into a complex story. Each tapper has their own unique struggles and triumphs. If you're ever in Kerala, take a moment to appreciate the green tapestry and the lives woven into it. You might hear a story that will stick with you long after the latex dries.

Note: Data/Numbers on earnings are estimates and vary based on location, quality, and other factors.