Rubber and Rice

Peter Mackness explained how important Rubber and Rice was to the Sri Lankan economy and how they are grown in such great quantities

Our speaker last Tuesday, 30th June, 2015 was Peter Mackness whose subject was “Rubber and Rise".   In his time Peter has been an Hotelier and in particular he opened several hotels overseas one of which was in Ceylon before it became Sri Lanka, and it was while he was there that he took an interest in Rubber and Rice which were grown in great quantities and in fact are still an important part of that country’s economy.   With the help of a power point presentation Peter was able to show us how rubber was grown and harvested.  The plantation he was talking about was one owned by the Padukka  Group and like most plantations the site included a bungalow for the Planter and Peter was able to recall sitting o n the balcony of an evening and enjoying the hospitality of the owner.   The plantation covered almost eight hundred acres and it gave work to about six hundred workers.   Rubber trees were grown from nutmegs  the seeds of which were planted in the ground and covered under a framework of palm leaves as a shelter.  After a year the young rubber trees would be grafted on to a mature tree and after a further eight months the mature tree was cut away leaving the side shoot to grow upward and straight.   This process took five to seven years before the new tree was able to produce rubber.   To harvest the latex, a cup, usually a half a coconut was strapped to the tree and a grove made halfway round the tree which allowed the latex to drip into the cup.    The cups were collected and taken to the factory on site for processing.   The lowlands on  the plantation were used for growing rice and the paddy fields were  flooded and then drained leaving the mud into which the rice plants were sown and when ready they were cut on to mats, trampled by water buffalo to sort the chaff and grain.   After answering several questions from members Peter was thanked by Rtn. Stephen Brindley for his very interesting and informative presentation.