April 03, 2012 (LBO) – Small farmers making rubber in Sri Lanka might be able to get better prices by pooling their efforts and introducing traceability systems that would ensure guaranteed quality to buyers, researchers have found.
In Sri Lanka, Lokanathan said about 43 percent of the rubber output is sold as ‘ribbed smoked sheets’ (RSS) made from raw, processed latex.
The visual-based grading of RSS, on a scale of one to five, creates problems as buyers dealing with smallholders find it too costly to find out the quality of each and every sheet.
In Sri Lanka, buyers offer prices in two bands, 1- 2 for the top grades, and 3 – 5 for the rest.
“Within those price bands prices don™t vary a lot so farmers end up making only RSS5 because trying to show you have a higher quality sheet is difficult,” Lokanathan said.
But a farmer collective called ‘Pandeniya Thurusaviya’ has managed to get over the quality penalty and now produce RSS1 and are able to get higher prices.
“The reason is that all shared the same access to post-harvest infrastructure like the smoke house where rubber sheets are made and warehouse to store sheets,” Lokanathan said.
“They got over the quality is