Sri Lanka seeks to expand plantations

Nov 25, 2009 (LBO) – The Sri Lankan government wants to encourage rubber and coconut cultivation outside traditional areas of production, Plantations Industries Minister D M Jayaratne said. He said there was high demand for land to grow coconut in the east, after the end of the ethnic war made cultivation there commercially viable.

The eastern province and Anuradhapura, in the north-central province, is also being considered for rubber cultivation because they are in the dry zone and rainfall is limited, he told a news conference.

Most rubber estates are found in the wet zone and tapping of latex from the trees is interrupted during rainy days unless rubber guards are deployed.

Jayaratne said rubber prices had now recovered and become remunerative for cultivators.

Rubber prices crashed with the bursting of the global commodities bubble late last year.

The government was giving free rain guards to cultivators and tapping knives in an effort to increase latex collection.

New areas planted with rubber in the southern Moneragala district, also in the dry zone, should increase production in future, while helping to alleviate poverty in the region, one of the most n