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Sri Lanka mulls planting rubber in former northern war zone

June 16, 2010 (LBO) - The Sri Lankan government is considering planting rubber in the former war zone in the north to increase production and meet growing demand from local industries, the plantations industries minister said.
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"The rubber industry says they have the ability to make more rubber products if raw material was available," he said.

"But they are now forced to import rubber because local production is not enough."

Local industries have also had to cope with record high rubber prices in recent months as production was disrupted by rain.

Samarasinghe said some 50,000 hectares are to be planted with rubber in southern Moneragala, also in the dry zone, under project launched a few years ago.

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"Investors too are waiting for an opportunity to grow rubber.

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" Mahinda Samarasinghe said the rubber research institute had identified an area north of Vavuniya and parts of Kilinochchi as potential rubber growing areas.

The areas are part of the island's dry zone which means rubber production will not get affected by rain as in the wet zone, where most rubber estates are now found.

They were also areas affected by the 30-year ethnic war which ended in May 2009 with the defeat of Tamil Tiger separatist

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