01/10/2011

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SRI LANKA: Good time for rubber industry

The future challenge in the rubber industry is not the price of rubber but the availability, an industry expert said.Rubber Research Institute Director General Dr Asoka Nugawela said buyers will be prepared to pay any amount but there will be a scarcity for rubber."Therefore if Sri Lanka can increase rubber cultivation more investors will be attracted and also the foreign exchange spent to import rubber could be saved," he said.The rubber industry in the country has a huge growth potential which would help to upgrade the living standards of the people in that field and reduce poverty.He said rubber cultivation in non traditional areas which was started in 2004 has produced positive results in the Moneragala district and the tapping of these trees has begun recently.However, if they get the right technology and guidance they can achieve 100 percent results.The Rubber Research Centre is in the process of doing research regarding various agri methods and deciding on best clones suitable for non-traditional areas.The recommendations will be submitted in 2011.The Government should also support and motivate growers by conducting awareness of the benefits of growing rubber in non traditional areas.Dr Nugawela said the price of a rubber kilo has now gone up as never before upto Rs 500 at present and the future for rubber industrialists, cultivators and smallholders will be very lucrative.Elaborating on the price increase he said a grower who collects rubber from 250 plants a day can get six kilograms of rubber and if he works for 25 days a month he can earn more than Rs 60,000 a month."Since he can continue rubber tapping for 24 years and the growers do most of the work by themselves their cost is less. Even at the end of 24 years the rubber tree can be sold at a high price."Therefore it will be a long-term sustainable investment for the growers," Dr. Nugawela said.(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)

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