SRI LANKA: Rubber re-planting and new planting subsidy to continue - RDD

Rubber Development Department (RDD) of Sri Lanka said that it would continue the rubber re-planting and new planting subsidy scheme for this year.

Currently, rubber re-planting and new planting subsidy scheme is in the process of providing Rs 125,000 per hectare. For 2011, smallholders have been advised to utilize 2,000 and 1,850 hectares for the rubber new planting and re-planting process, respectively.

The corporate sector needs to utilize 1,850 hectares for rubber re-planting process.

However, RDD is planning to increase the current Rs 125,000 amount that is being given for one hectare re-planting or new planting rubber land. Discussions are taking place among relevant authorities to increase the stipulated subsidy amount which is given for one-hectare rubber cultivation land.

The corporate sector and the small holders have been given a target by RDD to re-plant and new plant rubber in 5,245 hectares during 2010 alone, of which small holders needed to plant 3,395 hectares.

The remaining 1,850 hectares were to be planted by the corporate sector during 2010.

However, the smallholders and the corporate sector have only managed to plant rubber in 3,030 hectares.

The small holders and the corporate sector have cultivated rubber in 2,723 and 307 hectares respectively against the set target by the RDD.

In addition ,RDD has encouraged the rubber cultivators to grow intercrops such as banana, passion fruit, plantains and other fruits with rubber plants with the purpose of giving them a chance to get an additional income.

RDD has also introduced a subsidy scheme for farmers engaged in growing intercrops in the rubber cultivating lands. Under the subsidy, Rs 4,000 will be paid for an one-acre rubber land that is also being utilized for intercrops.

Recently, RDD introduced a rain guard subsidy scheme for mature rubber trees in rubber smallholders' lands in the wet areas.

The main purpose of this subsidy scheme is to prevent any further damages taking place on the rubber trees due to heavy rains by providing financial assistance.

Accordingly, RDD has allocated Rs 160 million to cover 16,000-hectares of rubber lands in the country. Under the above subsidy scheme, it is expected to protect 6.40 million rubber trees by providing Rs 25 per tree.(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)