According to the RRI, 1,500 families in Moneragala district and 1,300 families in Ampara, Vavuniya and Hambantota districts have already joined the project. Another 340 families in the Agalawatta electorate are also engaged in planting rubber in their home gardens.
According to the Director of RRI, Dr. W.M.G. Seneviratne, the acreage of rubber plantations has reduced immensely within the last forty years. In 1970s rubber was cultivated in 214,000 hectares in Sri Lanka and it has dropped to 121,000 hectares now.
The main reasons behind the decline has been identified as allotting land for house building, cultivators shifting to other more profitable crops and destabilized prices.
As a measure to promote growth, the RRI has introduced new varieties of rubber that can be grown in dry zone and a cloned rubber variety that can be cultivated in home gardens.
The RRI says the home level cultivation of rubber is also an additional mean of income for the families.
Source: www.ft.lk, Colombo; 1 Oct 2013(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)