ECONOMYNEXT – Falling natural rubber production in Sri Lanka might deter new investments in the rubber products manufacturing industry and even prompt existing investors to go where raw material is available, a senior official said.
The government must urgently take measures to increase natural rubber production and improve productivity of existing plantations, said Sunil Poholiyadde, outgoing chairman of the Colombo Rubber Traders’ Association.
The master plan for rubber has many proposals to develop the sector but they need to be implemented quickly, he told association’s annual general meeting.
“Investors coming to the country for value addition come because there has been a fair volume of rubber (available locally),” Poholiyadde said.
“If one has to import raw material and export finished products I doubt many players would be coming.
“And the more serious threat is of players in the game leaving the country,” Poholiyadde said referring to rubber products manufacturers having to import rubber in recent years as local production was not enough.
Poholiyadde said the government needs to launch a program immediately to revive natural rubber production which had fallen to 83.1 million kilos in 2017 from 130 million kilos in 2013.
“Time is running out. Other countries keep increasing rubber production and yields when we are almost static or falling behind.”
Rubber production had increased only by about four million kilos in 2017 from 2016.
“It’s a very marginal increase – not what’s expected for the sector to boom.”
(COLOMBO, July 19, 2018)