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Research Articles

Potential for rubber (Hevea brasiliensis Muell. Arg.) cultivation in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka

Authors:

V.H.L. Rodrigo ,

Rubber Research Institute of Sri Lanka, Dartonfield, Agalawatta., LK
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S.M.M. Iqbal,

Rubber Research Institute of Sri Lanka, Dartonfield, Agalawatta., LK
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R.S. Dharmakeerthi

Rubber Research Institute of Sri Lanka, Dartonfield, Agalawatta., LK
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Abstract

Rubber cultivation in Sri Lanka has been confined mainly to the Wet Zone where the extent of land under rubber declined rapidly with urbanization and land fragmentation. Therefore in order to meet the demand for natural rubber cultivation has been undertaken in moderately dry areas (Intermediate Zone) of the country. Lands in the intermediate zone that were previously subjected to shifting cultivation have been targeted for rubber cultivation with collaboration of the peasant community whose livelihood depended largely on seasonal crops grown on these lands. Therefore, benefits of rubber cultivation in those areas are threefold, and include increased rubber production, increased forest cover and improved livelihood of the rural poor. The Eastern Province of the country was selected for the present study. The feasibility of rubber cultivation in this area was examined in three steps. Firstly, a review of available secondary data was conducted, followed by interviews with key informants and site visits to the potential areas. Secondly, rubber plants were established in limited smallholdings of a selected village followed by an agronomic assessment on initial establishment of rubber. Finally a SWOT analysis was conducted in the village. For rubber cultivation in the Eastern Province, the areas under the Intermediate Zone comprising soils predominantly of reddish brown earth and immature brown loams were selected. Initial growth and establishment of rubber in smallholdings showed potential success in rubber cultivation in the region. The mean survival of rubber plants for all sites established was recorded as 75% together with an annual plant girth expansion rate of 7.44 cm. Land did not appear to be a limiting factor and farmers were highly interested in cultivating rubber in the area concerned. However, problems associated with land ownership needed to be sorted out enabling farmers to obtain current rubber subsidy benefits. Extension programmes were to be strengthened to educate farmers on crop management practices of rubber. Poor roads to villages and lack of finances were the constraints for expansion of rubber cultivation. Timely distribution of planting materials, fertilizer and subsidy payments were essential for proper establishment of rubber. Measures to be taken to address the problems associated with dry spells and socio-economic needs of the farmers were also identified.

Keywords: Hevea brasiliensis, intercropping, rubber cultivation, rubber smallholder.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4038/jnsfsr.v39i4.3888

J.Natn.Sci.Foundation Sri Lanka 2011 39 (4):403-411

How to Cite: Rodrigo, V.H.L., Iqbal, S.M.M. and Dharmakeerthi, R.S., 2011. Potential for rubber (Hevea brasiliensis Muell. Arg.) cultivation in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. Journal of the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka, 39(4), pp.403–411. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/jnsfsr.v39i4.3888
Published on 30 Dec 2011.
Peer Reviewed

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