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 is produced through the process of polymerization of various monomers. Naturally, rubber is produced by the process of tapping of the plant called Hevea Brasiliensis. The rubber tree is a native of the Amazon River basin in South America.
Later on, these trees were cultivated in the rubber plantations of Indonesia, the Malay Peninsula and Sri Lanka. These trees now produce about 90% of all the natural rubber consumed. Gutta-percha and balata are other plants which produce natural rubber.
The ideal rubber growing regions should be 8 degree North of Equator, 10 degree South of Equator, and high temperature, altitude not beyond 400meters and high humidity.
USES OF RUBBER
The rubber industry produces wide range products like auto tyre, auto tubes, automobile parts, footwear, belts, cables & wires, battery boxes etc. Block rubber, Preserved Latex, Crepes and sheets are some forms in which rubber is produced and used. The basic property of rubber is that 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.
British inventor and chemist Charles Macintosh, in 1823, established a plant in Glasgow for the manufacture of water-proof cloth and rainproof garments. During 19th century 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
In 1905, the year the first shipment of rubber was exported from Malaya, Malaysia. At that time Brazil was producing 99% of the world supply of rubber. Today Brazil accounts for less than one percent. Today more than 80% of plantation rubber comes from south-east Asia.
PHYSICAL & ECONOMIC FACTORS FOR NATURAL RUBBER
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.
The Temperature is required more than 28C best for the growth of rubber plants. Temperature plays a vital role in the best output of the Natural Rubber.
The distributed annual rainfall of 60 to 78 inches is required for rubber trees.
Rubber has a wide tolerance to 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 OF NATURAL RUBBER
1: Energy resources
2: Water availability
3: Availability of Market
4: Location Factor
5: Sufficient amount of Capital
6: Skill Labour Force
7: Government Patronage
8: Government Policy for Industrial Development
9: Means of Transportation 10: Availability of latest Technology
TYPES OF RUBBER PRODUCTS
Rubber is one of the familiar products that can be used for Commercial, Residential and Industrial purpose. Generally there are two types of Rubbers such as:
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 this is also called as natural rubber.
2: Synthetic Rubber
Synthetic rubbers are from chemically synthesized. You can find many rubber products in the market such as rubber tire, rubber sheet, rubber pipe, rubber floor, rubber strip, rubber bands, rubber mats, rubber magnets, etc.
NATURAL RUBBER PRODUCTION BY CONTINENTS
World Total Production — 10,035,915 metric tons (FAO, Statistical year book — 2008)
South-east Asia is the home of natural rubber production, out of 28 countries 12 natural rubber producing countries are in Asia. Among the continents, Africa ranks 2nd and it produces more than 6 percent natural rubber of the world. Third important natural rubber producing region is South and Central America. This region produces more than 2 percent natural rubber of the world.
NATURAL RUBBER PRODUCING COUNTRIES
Today, 28 countries are producing natural rubber in the world.
Thailand ranks first in natural rubber production in the world. This south East Asian country has monsoon climate, which is most suitable for vegetative growth of rubber plant. Southern Thailand region has maximum rubber plantation.
During 2007, Thailand produces 3.12 million metric tons natural rubber, and area under rubber plantation was 1.7 million hectares. Per hectare yield in Thailand is 17,710 kg.
Indonesia is 2nd largest natural rubber producer in the world. Tropical and monsoon climate suitability has encouraged the rubber plantation in Indonesia. Indonesia shared about 21% rubber output of the world.
During 2007, its rubber production was 2.54 million metric tons and area under rubber plantation was3.175 million, while per hectare yield was 8000 kg, which is very low.
Malaysia ranks third in rubber production after Thailand and Indonesia. The west coastal and piedmont zone of the Malay Peninsula and western part of Kalimantan is important for rubber estates.
During 2007 rubber output was 1,270,000 metric tons, while area under rubber plantation was 3,175,000 hectares and shared about 10% of the total rubber 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 relatively later date of 1902. In India Kerala is, by far, the most important producer of rubber, accounting for 92% for 92% of India’s rubber acreage.
Tamal Nadu, Karnataka, Nicobar Islands, Tripura, Mizorarn and Assam are other rubber producing states.
During 2007 India produced 803,000 metric tons natural rubber, while area under rubber plantation was 450,000 hectares.
Vietnam has emerged as 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 production of natural rubber during 2007 was 550,000 metric tons (550 thousand metric tons). Area under rubber plantation was 512 thousand hectares.
China is another outstanding country among rubber producing countries and has emerged as 6th largest rubber producer. China is an emerging industrial nation, its rubber demand is very large, and therefore it is deficit in rubber 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.
During 2007, it produced 545,000 metric tons rubber, while area under rubber plantation was 475,000 hectares.
The Archipelago of Philippine has suitable climate for rubber plantation. It has emerged an important country among rubber producers in the recent decade. Philippines coastal regions are most suitable for rubber plantation.
During 2007, its production is 360 thousand metric tons and area under rubber plantation is 95 thousand hectares.
During the last decade of the 20th century, Nigeria expanded its hectare age and yield and has become 8th largest rubber producing nation in the world. Favorable geographical conditions, cheap labor, nearness to European market and foreign investment has increased rubber plantation in Nigeria.
During 2007, rubber production was 143 thousand metric tons, while area under rubber plantation was 340 thousand hectares.
In the West African region, rubber plantation first started in Liberia but Cote-d-Ivoire out ranked Liberia with in short period. The Cote-d-Ivoire ranks 9th in the world in rubber production.
During 2007, its rubber production was 128 thousand metric tons while hectare age under rubber plantation was 75 thousand hectares. 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 rubber 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.
During 2007, Sri Lanka produced 117.6 thousand metric tons rubber, from 116.4 thousand hectares rubber estates. Sri Lanka’s 97 percent rubber output enters in the international market.
Other Important Countries
The countries Brazil, Liberia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cameroon, Congo, Guatemala, Liberia, Mexico, Myanmar and Papua New Guinea are some other countries prominent in rubber production in the world.