A LOW FREQUENCY HARVESTING SYSTEM EXCLUSIVELY FOR SMALLHOLDER RUBBER GROWERS BEING EMPLOYED OFF-FARM

KVVS Kudaligama, VHL Rodrigo, RPS Randunu, MKP Perera, PDTL Madushani

Abstract

A system in which rubber trees could be harvested on weekly basis was developed enabling smallholders in Sri Lanka (having less than 1 ha of rubber) to use own labour for rubber tapping during weekend holidays. Latex harvesting is undertaken here on two consecutive days per week with the application of 2% ethephon biweekly (S/2 d1 2d7 2% ET every two weeks). This system provides a comparable yield to what given by the traditional S/2 d2 system. As per the biochemical and physiological parameters of latex, no indication on stress factors was evident. When compared to traditional S/2 d2 harvesting, the new system was able to reduce the cost of production by LKR 135/= per kg of rubber and thereby increasing the profit margin by LKR 274,448/= per hectare per year due to the use of own labour in latex harvesting. Just one day tapping per week is also possible with the application ethephon 5% monthly, should 5% yield decline be acceptable in lieu of saving the tapping cost incurred in hired labour.

Keywords : ethephon, Hevea, leisure, socioeconomics, weekend harvesting

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