Natural Rubber is found in the fluid of some specific plants and obtained from the milky white fluid called latex, found in many plants. But it can also be produced synthetically. Synthetic rubber producers make it through the process of polymerization of various monomers
Naturally, rubber is produced by the process of tapping of the plant called Hevea Brasiliensis. The tree is a native of the Amazon River basin in South America.
Later on, these trees were cultivated in the plantations of Indonesia, the Malay Peninsula, and Sri Lanka. These natural rubber trees now produce about 90% of all the consumption. Gutta-percha and balata are other plants which produce.
Geographical Location for Natural Rubber Production
The ideal rubber growing regions should be 8 degrees North of Equator, 10 degrees South of Equator, and high temperature, altitude not beyond 400 meters and high humidity.
Most Common Uses of Natural Rubber
The rubber industry produces a wide range of products like the auto tire, auto tubes, automobile parts like seal & Timing Belts, footwear, Conveyor belts, cables & wires, battery boxes etc. Block, Preserved Latex, Crepes and sheets are some forms in which rubber is produced and used.
Basic Properties of Rubber
It comes back to its original shape if it is twisted or stretched but if heat is applied to the rubber, it won’t return to its original shape easily.
History of Rubber Plantation & Production
British inventor and chemist Charles Macintosh, in 1823, established a plant in Glasgow for the manufacture of water-proof cloth and rainproof garments. During the 19th century, the Brazilian government banned the export of rubber plant to preserve its monopoly. Therefore, the Brazilian Jungles continued to be the main source of crude rubber for most of the 19th century. – Source
Despite a rigid embargo, in 1876, a British explorer smuggled 70 thousand seeds of Hevea Brasiliensis, he was Sir Henry Wickham. These seeds were planted in London Kew Garden. Later on, plants 2,800 were sent to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and to Perak in, Malaya, for plantation, and then plantation was introduced in Indonesia.
In 1905, the year the first shipment was exported from Malaya, Malaysia. At that time Brazil was producing 99% of the world supply. Today Brazil accounts for less than one percent. Today more than 80% of plantation comes from south-east Asia.
Physical & Economic Factors for Rubber Production
For the growth of Natural Rubber following Physical conditions are necessary:
For the optimum growth of rubber, conditions must be equatorial with a temperature of around 28C, with relatively little variation.
Temperature is required more than 28 C best for the growth of rubber plants. Temperature plays a vital role in the best output
The distributed annual rainfall of 60 to 78 inches is required for rubber trees.
Rubber has a wide tolerance for different soil types and soil moisture factors such as moisture absorption, moisture holding capacity, drainage and resistance to flooding. A deep soil is required to encourage deep penetration of roots and surface rooting.
Economic Factors for Natural Rubber Production
- Energy resources
- Water availability
- Availability of Market
- Location Factor
- Sufficient amount of Capital
- Skill Labor Force
- Government Patronage
- Government Policy for Industrial Development
- Means of Transportation 10: Availability of latest Technology
2 Main Types of Natural Rubber
Rubber is one of the familiar products that can be used for Commercial, Residential and Industrial purpose. Generally, there are two types of Rubbers
1: Natural Rubber
These Natural Rubbers are derived from latex which is a milky substance found in the sap of trees. The products obtained from this process are a raw product.
2: Synthetic Rubber
Synthetic rubbers are from chemically synthesized. You can find many products in the market such as tire, sheet, pipe, floor, strip, bands, mats, magnets, etc.
Natural Rubber Production Distribution by Continents
World Total Production — 15,051 million metric tons (FAO, Statistical yearbook — 2017)
South-east Asia is the home of natural rubber production, out of 28 countries 12 highest production countries are in Asia. Among the continents, Africa ranks 2nd and it produces more than 6 percent. Third important natural rubber producing region in South and Central America. This region produces more than 2 percent natural rubber in the world.
Top 10 Natural Rubber Producing Countries in World
Today, 28 countries are producing rubber in the world and ranked differently according to their production capacity and exports. The below list is of Top 10 in the world.
Thailand ranks first in natural rubber production in the world. This South East Asian country has a monsoon climate, which is most suitable for vegetative growth of rubber plant. Southern Thailand region has the maximum plantation.
Thailand produces 3.12 million metric tons of natural rubber, and area under rubber plantation was 1.7 million hectares. Per hectare yield in Thailand is 17,710 kg.
Indonesia is the 2nd largest natural rubber producer in the world. Tropical and monsoon climate suitability has encouraged plantation in Indonesia. Indonesia shared about 21% output of the world.
Its rubber production was 2.54 million metric tons and area under rubber plantation was 3.175 million, while per hectare yield was 8000 kg, which is very low.
Malaysia ranks third after Thailand and Indonesia. The west coastal and piedmont zone of the Malay Peninsula and western part of Kalimantan is important for rubber estates.
Rubber output was 1,270,000 metric tons, while the area under plantation was 3,175,000 hectares and shared about 10% of the total production of the world.
Natural rubber plantation was introduced in India in 1880 when rubber was planted in Travancore and Malabar regions, but commercial plantation started at a relatively later date of 1902. Kerala is the most important largest rubber producer state in India, accounting for 92% for 92% of India’s rubber acreage.
Tamal Nadu, Karnataka, Nicobar Islands, Tripura, Mizorarn and Assam are other producing states. In the recent past, India produced 803,000 metric tons natural rubber, while the area under plantation was 450,000 hectares.
Vietnam has emerged as the fifth largest natural rubber producer in the world. The area around the Ho “Chi Minh” city is of fundamental importance for rubber cultivation. Vietnam exports the bulk of her natural rubber output to international market.
Its natural rubber production was 550,000 metric tons (550 thousand metric tons). Plantation area is 512 thousand hectares.
China is another outstanding country among rubber producing countries and has emerged as 6th largest producer. China is an emerging industrial nation, its demand is very large, and therefore it is a deficit in production. China import natural rubber from other countries.
China’s rubber plantations are located at the hills of the south-east and in the Yangtze basin and coastal belt.
It produced 545,000 metric tons rubber, while the area under plantation was 475,000 hectares.
The Archipelago of Philippine has a suitable climate for plantation. It has emerged an important country among producers in the recent decade. Philippines coastal regions are most suitable. Its production is 360 thousand metric tons and 95 thousand hectares plantation area.
During the last decade of the 20th century, Nigeria expanded its hectare age and yield and has become the 8th largest rubber producing country in the world. Favorable geographical conditions, cheap labor, nearness to the European market and foreign investment has increased plantation in Nigeria.
Rubber production was 143 thousand metric tons, while the area under rubber plantation was 340 thousand hectares.
In the West African region, plantation first started in Liberia but Cote-d-Ivoire out ranked Liberia within short period. The Cote-d-Ivoire ranks 9th in the world.
During recent years, Its average rubber production was 128 thousand metric tons while hectare age under plantation was 75 thousand hectares. It is the largest rubber producing country in Africa. Cote-d-Ivoire exports all its production to European countries
10: Sri Lanka
In South, Asia rubber was first planted in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) towards the close of the 19th century. Being a small country expansion of rubber plantation is not possible. Even then, Sri Lanka is 10th largest producer in the world.
This is due to favorable Geographical conditions, cheap labor and easy shipment to international market. Cultivation of rubber is concentrated in the southwestern foothills of the central highlands.
Sri Lanka produced 117.6 thousand metric tons rubber, from 116.4 thousand hectares rubber estates. Sri Lanka’s 97 percent rubber output enters the international market.
Other Important Countries by Production
The countries Brazil, Liberia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cameroon, Congo, Guatemala, Liberia, Mexico, Myanmar and Papua New Guinea are some other Rubber Producing Countries