SRI LANKA: Govt. extends facilities to rubber smallholders

The Minister of Plantation Industries and Kalutara District Parliamentarian Mahinda Samarasinghe said there was an increasing demand for natural rubber from Sri Lanka and that the country should produce at least 50,000 more metric tons annually to meet the demand.

Addressing a meeting at the Matugama Public Auditorium to distribute rubber planting permits to smallholders, he said the price of crepe rubber that declined to Rs. 25 per kilo was now Rs. 600 per kilo due to the increasing demand for natural rubber in the world market.

"China is one of the main buyers of Sri Lankan rubber. The government is keen to give a new impetus to the rubber industry that brings in a large amount of foreign exchange to the country. The government depends on the rubber smallholders to meet the unprecedented demand for Sri Lankan rubber. We are therefore providing rubber smallholders subsidies and other incentives to boost production. The government has allocated about Rs.1000 million to the Rubber Development Department. Recently 10,000 selected rubber smallholders in the Monaragala district were provided facilities to cultivate rubber. The programme would be expanded to Ampara district as well,” the minister said.

The Secretary, Ministry of Plantation Industries, Malani Peiris and several officials of the Rubber Control Department, the Rubber Research Institute, and the Turu Saviya programme attended the meeting.(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)