ubber trees originated from Brazil. It was then brought to Britain in 1876 and then to Ceylon (Sri Lanka). 22 seedlings were brought from Ceylon to Singapore in 1877 and the tapping technique was developed by Henry Ridley without killing the tree. The first rubber export from Sarawak was in 1910.
Rubber tree latex collection in a receptacle (source: immune.com)
The rubber tree is ready for tapping at around age 7. You can tap a rubber tree by cutting its bark thinly on the trunk to severe the latex ducts at a 25-30 degrees angle from the horizontal. If the bark is cut too deeply, the rubber tree will stop growing. The latex drips into a coconut shell or other receptacle where it hardens. Check out how latex is processed by Sarikei blogger Pejalai into rubber sheets here.
Rubber sheets on the back of a lorry - 2006 (source: borneo breezes)
A Standard Malaysian Rubber (SMR) factory, costing RM17.8M, will be set up in Sarawak under a joint venture with Chinese partner, Guangdong Agribusiness Group and Titi Latex. A few sites, including Sarikei, Betong and Sri Aman had been identified for the factory, which can produce 20,000 metric tonnes of rubber annually. The central management of mini-rubber estates will boost productivity from the 2,800 smallholder families and secure a higher price for their latex
Natural rubber is making a comeback in Sarawak in recent years after a decline in the 80-90's due to synthetic rubber and other agricultural products like oil palm and cocoa. Unlike synthetic rubber, natural rubber is a renewable resource and has unique qualities.
About 50,000 products are made directly or indirectly from rubber like tyres, surgical gloves and condoms. Hmm, rubber plays a part in world population control. From a plain familar tree to a family tree plan ...