July 11, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lankan plantations owned by the James Finlay group intend to plant rubber in a big way as part of its diversification strategy, a senior company official said. “We aim to plant rubber wherever possible. It is our number one priority,” said James Sandom, group general manager of Finlay Tea Estates.
The forestry strategy was part of the diversification strategy of Finlay units in Kenya, Uganda and Sri Lanka.
Sandom also said it was not clear how climate change would impact on the island but noted that it could mean an increase in the amount of pests and diseases.
The estates under the Finlay group will plant 630 hectares of rubber in the next four years.
Rubber is a multi-purpose tree that not only provides latex income but can also yield fuel wood, Sandom said.
Of the wonder or ‘magic’ trees that people can use for different purposes, the nearest is rubber, he said.
“As a result, rubber is a key component of our forestry strategy. We’re trying to make each estate self-sufficient in fuel wood.”
The existing reliance of the tea industry for fuel wood for heat and power means that the firm already has a ready market.