Sri Lanka seeks to raise rubber output with rain guards

June 18, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is to encourage small farmers tapping rubber to use rain guards to reduce production disruption by rain and provide more supplies for industry helped by high prices, an official said. Small farmers are likely to be the main suppliers of rubber in future, he said.

Local consumption of rubber by industry has risen sharply in recent years.

In 1980 only 10 percent of rubber was used locally.

Today 80 percent of production is used by local industries which have had to cope with record prices in recent month owing to global shortages and rising demand. Plantations industries minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said that in some parts of the island lashed by heavy rains recently tappers were able to tap trees for only five days a month, sharply reducing output.

Rubber estates run by government research institutes which used rain guards were able to make good profits, he said.

“So we want to make rain guards more available, especially to encourage rubber small holders to use them,” he told a news conference.

“Then we can increase rubber production, raise farmer incomes while ensuring enough supplies are available for industry.”

About 72,000 small farmers culti