25th July 2011, www.island.lk, By Steve A Morrell
Natural rubber is facing a bright future with the price of petroleum based synthetic rubber increasing rapidly. Therefore Sri Lanka would expand its acreage under rubber by planting 5000 hectares in Monaragala, Plantation Industries Minister Mahinder Samarasinghe announced recently.
Addressing the 92nd Annual General Meeting of the Colombo Rubber Traders’ Association as the Chief Guest the Minister said it would increase to 10,000 hectares as the demand grew for natural rubber.
He said plantation trials were also being conducted by the Rubber Research Institute in the Jaffna district and other northern areas.
Minister Samarasinghe said the present estate management lease agreement would lapse in 35 years and he posed an open ended question; would it be that the plantations would revert to the people of this country or continue to be sustained in its present form ? He brought to bear the intensity of small holders who had contributed significantly circumventing all odds and they were significant partners in the progress of the sector.
Exports of value added products are now in the region of 63 million SLR, and growing with 2010 being a record year.
He said 1.5 billion SLR was cost of fertilizer for totality of rubber holdings. It was therefore imperative that simultaneous increase of production was essential if the rubber industry was to progress.
The subsidy was increased and plantation companies too were subsidized for use of panel guards to intensify increased production.
Colombo Rubber Traders’ Association Chairman M.S.Rahim said that Planters and Regional Plantation Companies had to be credited with high standards they maintained.
He said product standards plus their sustained production drive had sequentially resulted in Rubber being an important plantation crop which had proved its worth and its impact on the economy. Production had increased 12 %, but the small holder sector, of about 125,000 cultivators contributed substantially to boost production levels which were about 153, 000 tons annually.
Latex crepe contributed to natural rubber exports, but value added products gaining in exports had also contributed to plus factors to enhance importance of rubber contributing to export inventories surpassing all past records. Rahim said in summing up 2010 as a good year.
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