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Sri Lanka’s Rubber Trees Dominate as Quality Latex Source

Sri Lanka often evokes images of fragrant tea, colourful spices and breath-taking beaches. But the country has also established itself as a premier source of quality rubber sap used for latex production. Business experts have even hailed the country as the cradle for the worldwide rubber industry, tracing the first rubber seedlings planted in late 1800’s. Currently, the rubber industry is considered robust, highly developed and of the best quality in the world. But why is this the case?

Between the first trees planted and 1900 saw a great increase in cultivation in the Sri Lankan wet zone. By the 1970s, over 200,000 hectares of rubber plantations existed and continue to thrive to this day. Local communities benefited from said growth through the creation of jobs, from farming, harvesting, processing all the way to manufacturing.

The positive impact of rubber to the local and national economy was such that the government implemented environmental regulations for sustainability, concessions through free trade agreements between buyers and suppliers, standardization and transparency for all stakeholders and compliance with international labour practices. One such initiative is the establishment of the Rubber Research Institute of Sri Lanka, serving as a centre of excellence for high quality scientific rubber technologies.

Besides the government element, Sri Lanka’s tropical climate is ideal for the rubber tree. The country’s distinct wet and dry seasons offer stability to farming and harvesting. The first tree planted in the Henaratgoda (Gampaha) Botanical Gardens in 1876 only perished in a 1988 cyclone – a testament to the perfect pairing of the tree’s characteristics to the country’s natural resources.

Ultimately as well, the diversity of sourcing raw materials from both rubber plantations and smallholders gives buyers a choice. Rubber companies in many countries, big or small, have a place in the market when sourcing from Sri Lanka.

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