01/04/2011

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SRI LANKA: North to come under rubber cultivation

With Sri Lankan natural rubber currently attracting great demand in the international market and fetching the highest ever price of Rs.400.61 per kg, large areas of the former war-torn Northern districts of Vavuniya, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu are also to be brought under rubber cultivation.Director General of the Rubber Development Department, R.B. Premadasa said that the soil having been experimented with salutary results, rubber has been planted in seven blocks in five acres in Mullaitivu on an experimental basis. Larger extents of land in the three districts will be brought under rubber cultivation under the development strategy of the Plantation Industries Ministry.Next year about 200 acres will be brought under rubber cultivation in the three Northern districts and the forecast of total production for 2016 is 200,000 metric tonnes, he said. Special subsidies are also being given for re-planting and 'rain-guard cover' during rainy days, he said.The rubber industry declined primarily due to the long drawn-out conflict and the districts that were a heaven to the rebels will now contribute to the re-bouncing of the industry, he said.Soil testing for rubber plantations has been carried out in other non-traditional districts including in Moneragala, Ampara and Polonnaruwa. An office has been opened in Moneregala and all rubber plantation expansion projects will be directed from this office.Tapping was conducted recently in the 50-acre rubber plantation that was set up six years ago in Padiyatalawa, Mahaoya in the Ampara district, Premadasa said.(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)

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