The Rubber Product industry, the 4th largest export earning industry accounting for 8% of the total national exports , has brought US$977 million as export income into Sri Lanka mainly from tyre exports.
The South Asian country intends to increase revenue from rubber products to $3 billion by 2025 by improving the standard of small holders and the rubber value chain while supporting rubber farmers. ,
The Rubber Improvement of Value Chain and Embedded Smallholders Resilience (RIVER) project yesterday entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to start off a project supported by the French Government and top tyre manufacturer – Michelin Group to support 6,000 rubber farmers.
The initiative is supported by the French Government, Michelin Business Consortium and Michelin Lanka Company.
The project will support farmers to improve their value chain of rubber products and expand their capacities through this project for three years.
The implementation of the project will benefit 6,000 small-scale rubber estate owners in Badalkumbura and Medagama areas in the Monaragala district. The project is expected to benefit approximately 30,000 Sri Lankans.
The industry provides direct and indirect employment opportunities to over 300,000 persons.
This initiative is financially supported by the Michelin Group, and its operations are carried out by the Michelin Lanka Company, the group›s local subsidiary. France-based Ksapa Group will implement the project under the guidance of the Plantation Industries Ministry and the French Embassy.
There will be 565,000 Euros committed to the project for the development of green ideas, with a total expenditure of roughly 1 million Euros. The grants are invested as part of a public- private partnership led by the French Ministry of Economics and Finance.
Major markets for finished rubber products are the US, Germany and Japan, while Pakistan, Germany and Japan are major markets for natural rubber from Sri Lanka, he added.
The main types of rubber produced in Sri Lanka are Ribbed Smoked Sheets (RSS), LatexCrepe, Sole Crepe, brown crepe, technically specified Rubber (TSR) and Centrifuged Latex.
For its unique properties, Sri Lanka’s Natural Rubber has a high demand in the world market.Currently Sri Lanka is the only manufacturer of the best quality Latex crepe rubber in the world and also the largest exporter of same.
Latex Crepe is the highest quality natural rubber and generally considered as the Rolls Royce of rubber and fetches a premium price over all other types and grades. Sri Lanka’s total production of natural rubber in the year 2022 was 70,867 MT.
Other products are pneumatic tyres, latex gloves, rubber flooring, mats, automatic components, sealing rings, rubber bands, straps, hoses and hot water bottles for the export market
Plantation Industries Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana, said through this project, rubber and other diverse crops are grown, clones are selected, latex is collected, fertilisers are applied, training in chemical use is provided, and skills such as entrepreneurship, human resource management, leadership, and responsible labour management practices are developed.