SRI LANKA: Demand for rubber increases

He said that an estimated 200,000 metric tons was required to meet the 65 % local demand and 35 % foreign market demand. Rubber production, if increased, could bring into the country huge foreign exchange while providing more employment opportunities.

"The demand of the natural rubber is increasing gradually. The current natural rubber plantation area is not enough to supply required amount of rubber production. There is no potential for further expansion of the rubber cultivation in traditional wet zone,” the Director General said.

Accordingly, RDD was tapping the intermediate zone in the South, Uva, North and East provinces for further expansion of rubber cultivation utilising a government subsidy of Rs.19 million.

"Already, 121.6 hectares of land has been cultivated in Ampara's Padiyatalawa with 226 holdings and 11.25 hectares in Maha Oya with 27 holdings in just over one year. Altogether 25 hectares was tapped in Padiyatalawa. All other lands are in immature stage," the Director General disclosed.

He said that rubber exports fetched total revenue of Rs. 120642.68 million in 2011 with a total extent of 126,600 hectares cultivated.

Source: Daily "The Nation", Colombo; 26 Feb 2012

(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)