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Tuesday, Dec 21, 2004

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Climatic conditions curb China's rubber output


Kottayam , Dec. 20

CHINA has not made any remarkable progress in rubber cultivation due to the adverse agro-climatic conditions, according to Dr N.M. Mathew, Director, Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII). He recently returned after attending an international conference organised by the International Rubber Research and Development Board (IRRDB). The productivity in China is also relatively low, he said.

Rubber cultivation is practised in five provinces in China. More than 69 per cent of the area under rubber is in Hainan province, an island located in the South China Sea. This province also accounts for some 60 per cent of the total production. Area-wise, Yunnan province is the second largest rubber-producing region.

Of the total area of 9,73,000 hectares identified as suitable for rubber in China, only about 6,30,000 hectares have been brought under the crop.

The remaining area is mostly located in the three low productivity provinces where competition from more remunerative crops is likely to prevent further expansion of rubber cultivation in China, Mr Mathew told Business Line.

"The agro-climatic conditions prevailing even in the Yunnan province are far from being ideal for rubber cultivation. The average annual rainfall is 1,100-1,600 mm. Annual average temperature is only 20C. In spite of the relatively adverse agro-climatic conditions, the rubber plantations in the Yunnan province appear to be healthy and well-maintained."

The Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences (CATAS) and the Yunnan Institute of Tropical Crops (YITC) have evolved rubber clones that are more suitable for the agro-climatic conditions prevailing in China. Clones such as SCATC 7-20-59, YITC 1, and SCATC 7-33-97 have been introduced.

In order to increase productivity and to reduce cost of production, low-frequency tapping along with use of yield stimulant has become popular in Yunnan.

Higher number of productive trees per hectare, new tapping systems involving use of yield stimulants, productivity-linked wage system, tapping in the early morning and crop management practices in tune with the agro-climatic conditions are major contributing factors for the relatively high productivity in the Yunnan province, Dr Mathew said.

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