Rubber is the most important agricultural product in the district. There is abundant scope for large number of rubber-based units in the district. As of now, about 15% of the SSI units or small-scale industries units are rubber based. But about 75% of these units are concentrated on 5 items only, as against about 35000 products possible with rubber. With the establishment of the proposed tyre factory viz. Palazhi tyres in the co-operative sector, the rubber based industry is likely to be boosted up. Similarly there is also scope for more wood based industries, engineering industries and garments units. The coir and handloom industries in the district are also running successfully.
Artisan and decentralized units:
The exact number of the artisan and other decentralized units in the district is not available. Although it is understood that there exist a number of artisan units like black smithy, carpentry and gold smithy in the district. It is estimated that there is scope to establish about 500 units under this sector every year.
Cottage and village industries:
Mainly the Khadi and village industries commission or KVIC and khadi and village industries board or KVIB promote cottage and village industries. The khadi and village industrial board or KVIB has an office at Kottayam. There are about 94 industries, for which assistance is given by this KVIB. These industries are labour intensive and involve less capital. Apart from KVIC and KVIB, the village and cottage industries are also promoted under Government sponsored programs like IRDP, PMRY, etc.
In the month of March, 1996 there were 15009 registered Small Scale Industries or SSI units in the district. Of this, 1730 were registered during 1995-96. There are a various number of positive factors for the development of industries in the district, which helps a lot in the economy. The major factor is the availability of raw material, manpower and ready market. However, there are also a few constraints that pull back the industrialization process.
Raw material based industries:
The most important feature of the district is the availability of natural rubber in plenty. It is estimated that Kottayam district alone accounts for 25% of the total production of natural rubber in the whole country. Rubber is the major raw material for about 35000 different types of products, which are, produced here in a huge amount. This can also help in setting up of more rubber-based industries. The rubber board and rubber research industries of India are present in this district, which is a supplementary advantage for its production.
Presently, there are about 2000 rubber-based industries in the district. It accounts for the largest share in the total industries considering the availability of the raw material. There is a proposal to set up a large type factory at Pala, which can enhance industrial activity in the district as well.
Wood based industry:
Other than rubber, wood is another major raw material, which is available in the district. A variety of quality timbers are available locally. This can also collect from the neighboring district. Recently, the processed rubber wood has been gaining popularity for furniture making, interior decorations and even as construction material. There is a tremendous potential for establishing rubber wood processing units. There are about 1300 wood based industries in the district, which are very useful for the production of rubber.
Agro based industries:
Agriculture is the major economic activity in the district. About 50% of the net domestic product of the district is contributed by agriculture and other primary activities. Processing of these products can be a major industrial activity in the district. Some of the major agriculture products which are available in this district can be named as rubber coconut, vegetable, paddy, spices, pineapple, pepper, ginger, milk, meat, fish, etc.
Demand based industries:
The whole district of Kerala is a consumer state. Most of the items required are being imported from the neighbouring states. The situation in Kottayam is not different. This being the situation, there is a ready market for most of the products that can be produced in Kottayam. A survey conducted by KITCO in 1994 revealed that about 64% of the industrial products, have good market within state itself.
The demand based industries possible in the district are garment making, plastic product, automobile products, metal and non metal industrial products, food and beverages, paper and printing units, building/construction materials, leather goods, repair units, etc. It is observed that there is a high demand for consumer non-durable articles.
Skill based industries:
There is also good potential for skill-based industries. This thing becomes possible due to the high level of educational and technical qualifications among the people. There is an Engineering college, 2 polytechnics, 3 junior technical schools and 6 technical high schools, which pass on technical skills to the people. Apart from these, the institutions in the other districts and the states are also being utilized by the people of the district. Agencies like Rubber Board, Malanad Development Society, Changanassery Social Service Society, Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Project, also help in improving the skills of the unemployed youth.
The Skill based industries like electrical and electronic industries, general engineering, mechanical workshops, repairing units, construction activities, etc. have good potential in the district. Thus all these try to prove as potential for the development of the district.
Rubber based industry:
As because Kottayam is the highest in rubber production in the state rather in the whole country, it has the distinct advantage of promoting rubber based industries. The statistics of the existing industries also show that about 15% of the existing units are based on rubber.
There are two types of industries possible in the rubber sector. One is the processing industry with rubber wood or latex. Other is the manufacturing industry based on latex or dry rubber. The former include centrifugal factories, creaming of rubber and crumb rubber industry. These are mainly the capital-intensive industries. The World Bank project for rubber development envisages financing of such industries also. Under the manufacturing industries about 35000 products are possible. These can also be differentiated depending on the type of raw material used for it. Some are based on latex which includes products like gloves, balloons, latex foam, rubber band, etc. and others are based on dry rubber sheets and the products include manufacturing of tyres and tubes, automobile parts, erasers, molded goods, etc.