RRI unveils improved knife for rubber tapping

Thursday, 13 September 2012 01:15 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Maheshi Perera

Rubber tapping is a profession that requires deep skills and right tools, which is exactly what the rubber industry in Sri Lanka lacks today.

The numbers of skilled tree tappers are declining and more and more people are deviating from the industry. This is having a huge negative impact on the rubber industry and the economy in Sri Lanka.

As a solution, the Rubber Research Institute of Sri Lanka recently introduced a new and technically improved knife for tapping.

The tree tapper should make a shaving pigment not deeper than 1.25 mm while protecting the cambium of the bark. The key component here is to have a sharper knife throughout the process.

“The average economic lifespan of a rubber tree is 24 years,” said Dr. Priyani Seneviratne, Head of Plant Science Department of the Rubber Research Institute. However, the total lifespan of the tree is determined by the accurate cut of the shaving pigment.

Each half of the shaving pigment should be tapped only every six years. But this is not the case, she said. Due to the lack of skilled workers in the industry and lack of proper tools, the yield of latex from each tree has declined.

Sri Lanka currently has a total of 127,000 hectares of rubber estates. In average a total of 1,000 kg of latex is collected from each hectare. The RRISL hopes to provide training to the tree tappers and increase the amount of latex yield per hectare.

The new knife is priced at Rs. 590 and could be purchased from the Rubber Research Institute in Agalawatte and Board Office and Rubber Chemistry Laboratories in Ratmalana.