Kochi, India – The Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC) foresees 3.2 percent growth in natural rubber production during 2015. Association secretary general, Sheela Thomas, has said the production is expected to rise from 10.63 million metric tons during 2014 to 11.18 million metric tons this year. She was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the two-day India Rubber Meet 2015. She said the projection is based on the January trend, which may vary as the year progresses. Demand for natural rubber (NR) is also expected to go up from 7.4 million metric tons last year to 7.8 million metric tons across ANRPC countries, she said. One of the reasons for the current price trend is the reduced pace of Chinese buying. The country accounts for more than 30 percent of the world rubber purchases and lower demand from China has had its effect on the market. At the same time, the U.S. market had recovered. Thomas emphasized the need to improve productivity, especially in countries like India where NR holdings are fragmented and the size of the average holding is about 0.53 hectares. India’s productivity had come down to 1,730 kg per hectare while Vietnam and Thailand had achieved about 1,800 kg. She said rubber cultivation is spreading to more areas, including in West Africa, where Cote d’Ivoire was a leading example. Nigeria, Cameroon and Liberia too have their share of NR cultivation. The ANRPC is an inter-governmental organization established in 1970. It comprises Cambodia, China, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. These countries account for 93 percent of the world’s NR production.