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A tour of my Rubber Plantation: A photo essay

Have you ever wondered what happens on a rubber plantation? Rubber plantations used to be an important business owned by most landlords in Kerala. It used to have a high market price in Kerala as 90% of India’s rubber farms are situated here.

The latex sourced from the trees is the primary source of natural rubber. Besides, it would increase the status of the landlord if they are known to own huge rubber plantations in Kerala.

However, in the current scenario, this situation has changed. The value of rubber is decreasing in Kerala, and the market price is unstable.

Untimely rains conspired with a decline in automobile production, caused by a shortage of chips, resulting in lower demand for rubber used in the manufacturing of tyres is the main cause of this drop in market price.

It’s not possible to make sufficient profit out of it, as labour costs have shot up.

Owing to this, many people either sold their property or are cultivating other crops where once there had been a huge rubber estate.

But few people still take care of their plantation, probably because it has been passed down for several generations.

These cans will be taken by wholesalers, who will check the density of the latex. Based on its density, they will pay us.

A few years ago, we didn’t have these cans to store latex. There used to be special dishes in which a certain quantity of latex would be mixed with formic acid and kept.

On the following evening, the person who tapped the tree would come and roll this thick latex into rubber sheets using a machine designed for that purpose.

These sheets would be hung in the smokehouse for drying and to prevent fungal infection.

Once the sheets are completely dried, they will be sold. We realised that this process was not profitable for us and instead installed these cans on our plantation site.

These cans are filled with Ammonia. Once latex is collected, it is poured into these and mixed well.

It has always been a pleasure for me to visit the rubber plantation frequently. I let my goats graze there.

As there is a compound wall, we let them wander and explore the whole place. It’s amazing!

Latex being mixed with ammonia using a long thick stick.
Nithya AS

Contributor: Nithya AS

About our Writing Program Student
Nithya is a grade 10 student studying at Greenvalley International School, Trivandrum, Kerala. She loves reading, painting, gardening and is also a Kalaripayattu practitioner. Besides, she enjoys spending time with nature and is always keen to contribute something to the environment.

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Tanya is a graduate in Sociology from Sophia College, Mumbai, a post-graduate in Communications and Media from SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai and holds a Master's Degree in Journalis & Mass Communications from Chandigarh University. A former writing mentor and a seasoned lifestyle writer, Tanya writes columns on The Lifestyle Portal of life and living.

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