Rubber Farming Project Report, Cost and Profit Analysis

Introduction

The following information is all about Rubber Farming Project Report.

The rubber plant binomially called as Hevea brasiliensis is deciduous in nature and is known to be the natural form of rubber. It is considered to be a native of the South American region. It was called the Para rubber tree in Brazil. Wild rubber trees grow to a maximum height of 43 m, but cultivated rubber trees have smaller growth because removing latex stunts their growth. The tree of rubber has a swollen bottle shaped base and cylindrical trunk. The bark is dark brown in colour and when cut oozes latex, the material of economic importance. The leaves of the tree are spirally arranged and have three leaflets. The plant of rubber has separate male and female flowers which are pungent to smell, creamy yellow in colour with no petals. The plant also bear fruits, which are in the form of capsules consisting three large seeds. The tap roots of the tree are approximately 2-5 m long after 3 to 4 years of planting. Upon ripening, the fruit automatically opens up, which are then collected and used for sowing in the nursery. The tree is known to grow best in tropical and subtropical climates. The tree grows very fast and is generally cultivated for commercial purposes. This rubber farming project report gives details about farming methods and requirements and at the end it discusses about the cost required to start rubber plantation and the profit associated with it.

Scope and importance

India is considered to be the 4th largest producer of rubber and contributes 9% to the global output. The area under rubber plantation is less, but productivity is high and this sector mainly has a small holding contributing more than large holdings. In India rubber plantations are mostly found in the South Western coast and traditional cultivation is found in the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Other than these states rubber is also cultivated in the states of Goa, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and in some North Eastern States. Currently, the rubber production ranges from 6 to 7 tonnes annually and amounts to around 3000 crores. Government schemes over the past have helped to expand the area under rubber cultivation and the productivity has also increased. Use of technology and financial assistance to farmers has been motivating this sector. It is also estimated that the assistance from World Bank for the rubber development project has added more advantage to the growth of rubber plantations and productivity.

Rubber plantation has a great opportunity for employment generation among the rural population especially women. It is known that more than 4 lakh women work for rubber plantations around the country and it has great potential for restoring the ecology. There are many by-products of rubber, which, when traded directly contribute to the economy and also improve the socioeconomic status of the farmers.

Latex and its properties

The latex obtained from the rubber tree has rubber particles dissolved in aqueous serum. The content of rubber hydrocarbons present in the plant latex varies from 25 to 40%. The contents present in the latex of the rubber plant has four main fractions of:

  • 25-40% rubber particles which are par shaped and about 6nm to 5 micron size
  • 10-20% lutoids of size 0.5 nm to 3 microns which control the stability and flow of latex
  • 5% of frey-wyssling particles which help in coagulation and oxido-reduction process
  • Extra elements present in it are proteins, resins, sugars, glycosides, tannins, alkaloids, mineral salts and secondary metabolites

Rubber plants varieties

There have been more than 280 genera and 8000 species out of which 9 varieties are known. All these contain latex in their bark. Some species important for breeding and are mentioned here:

Hevea benthamiana – grows in low alluvial soil; produces white latex; has low yield.

Hevea camporum – native to Brazilian area.

Hevea guianensis – grows to a height of 30 m; needs well-drained soil; has yellowish latex and the quality is inferior.

Hevea microphylla – plant height is 20 m; grows in low-lying area; latex is watery and has low rubber percentage.

Hevea nitida – tree is medium sized; grows on sandy soils; latex is white.

Hevea pauciflora – medium sized plants; grow on rocky hillsides; latex has low rubber count and high resin content.

Hevea rigidifolia – plant grows to a height 20 m; grows on well-drained soil; has cream coloured latex with poor rubber quality and high resin content.

Hevea spruceana – found in Amazon basin; grows well on low and flooded river areas; has watery latex with low rubber content

Some other cloned varieties of rubber are: RRIM 600, PB235, PB217, PB 260, PB 300, PB 311, RRIM 628, RRIM 712, RRIM 901 and USM 1.

Read: Groundnut Farming Project Report.

Soil and climatic requirements for Rubber Trees

Rubber Plantation.
Rubber Plantation.

The average temperature required for rubber plantations is 25-28˚C with a maximum of 34˚C. The atmospheric humidity should be around 80% with moderate wind speed. The rainfall in the area for rubber plantation should be around 2000 mm annually. Rubber trees require bright sunlight for about 20000 hours @ 6 hours a day. There is no specific dry or wet season requirement for growing these trees.

The soil for rubber cultivation has to be deep and well-drained. Acidic soil, which is lateritic loam or clayey loam is best suited for these trees. The pH of the soil should be around 4.5 to 6.

Land preparation and planting of Rubber Trees

Rubber Tree Leaves.
Rubber Tree Leaves.

The land for rubber cultivation should be cleared by cutting all the bigger and smaller trees along the expected rows of rubber. A typical variety of grass called the cogon grass should be completely removed, otherwise it can hinder the growth of rubber trees. Hilly areas should be thoroughly cleared and the area should be prepared for terracing. Plain areas should be ploughed twice before planning the layout. The layout pattern for hilly areas and plain areas is different.

In plain areas the direction of the rows is oriented towards the east – west for maximum sunlight. This also helps in drying the rubber trees due to east-west monsoon winds. Hilly areas with more than 20˚ gradient should be marked for planting points in level lines across the slope. Contour lining uses A-frame to locate the level lines.

Planting distances are different for layout patterns and this determines the planting density. For hilly areas, planting distances can be 9 x 2.5 m (444 plants), 8 x 2.5 m (500 plants), 10 x 2 m (500 plants), 11 x 2 m (454 plants), 8 x 3 m (416 plants); for flat areas the planting distance and density of plants is 5 x 4 m (500 plants), 6 x 3 m (555 plants), 7 x 3 m (476 plants), 8 x 3 m (416 plants); there can also be another layout called the avenue system with planting distance as 12 x 2 m (416 plants), 10 x 2 m (500 plants), 11 x 2 m (454 plants), 9 x 2.5 m (444 plants).

The dimensions of the pits should be 120 cm length, 45 cm width and 60 cm depth in hilly areas so as to check soil erosion. In plain land pits of dimensions 75 x 75 x 75 cm are dug and filled with top soil. If polybag buddings are used, then it should be top leaf whorl and if ground raised budding are being used, then two leaf whorls are used as planting material. The soil around the plant should be lightly pressed to allow air circulation. If plantlets are being used then they should be planted erect into the center of the pit. The direction of the bud should be in the direction of wind.

Propagation methods of Rubber Plants

Propagation of rubber can be done by grafted budwood or through seeds. The most commonly used material for planting is a 10 month old grafted budwood.

Propagation through seeds is done in the months of July- September on raised seed beds or in the nurseries. The seeds should be protected from the sun and should be watered regularly, such that they have enough moisture for germination. It takes around 6 to 10 days for the seeds to germinate. Seeds obtained for planting can be stored for a maximum period of 8 weeks.

The scions of the plant are maintained in the nursery by planting the budded stumps of the plant. When the budwood is 1 year old and has dark brown bark, the green portion of the plant below the terminal bud up to 1 m should be removed. Budding is of two types such as brown or green budding. For grafting, budwood should be 6-8 weeks of age and the stock seedling should be 2-6 months old.

Manure and fertilizer requirements for Rubber Trees

The life of rubber plant has three stages such as the nursery, immature plants and mature trees. Each stage is expected to have different requirements for manure.

The nursery seedlings require 25 kg of compost and 2.5 kg of rock phosphate per 100 m² once in every three years. NPK fertilizer @ 25 kg per 100 m² after 6 to 8 weeks of planting is also supplied to the seedlings.

During the first year of planting 1 application of 10: 10:4: 1.5 NPKMg @ 225 g per plant is applied. In the second and third years two applications of the above fertilizer @ 450 grams per plant is applied. Similarly, in the subsequent year until the tapping starts 2 applications of the fertilizer @ 550 g per plant are supplied. Plants under tapping need 12: 6: 6 NPK fertilizer mixture @ 400 kg per hectare in one year.

Irrigation requirements

Rubber is mostly grown in the sub-humid climatic zones and if proper irrigation is not provided, then the plants may experience heavy leaf injury or shedding during the summer months. Trees need consistent moisture, but too much water can cause root rot. The soil under rubber plantation should be allowed to dry between irrigation cycles. The plantations need at least 250 cm of rainfall distributed over the entire year with no dry season. The minimum no. of rainy days should be about 100 per year. Under irrigated land conditions, the rubber plants show slow girth formation.

Intercultural practices

Weeding should be done 4-6 times in a year during the initial plant growth stage. 1.5 m around the plant should be free of weeds. Weeding can either be done manually or by machines. Weeds can stunt the growth of rubber plants, therefore they should be removed on a regular basis.

After the rainy season, mulching the fields with rice or dry straw should be done. At least 10 cm around the tree base should be mulched and the mulch material has to be covered with a thin layer of soil. Good aeration is provided by turning over the soil at the base of the tree.

Pruning of young plants helps in good growth and smooth trunk development without any branches and large scars. The stem has to be pruned to a height of 2.5 to 3 m from the ground level.

Branch induction is a method to induce more branches on the tree. This can be done using a blade ring-cut device into which a stem with a cluster of buds about 2.5 m from the union is inserted and the device is turned around the bark to penetrate the wood. Generally, this method is done for trees which are 2-3 years old.

Clearing the vegetation and debris during dry season almost 6 m around the plant is necessary to prevent fire in the rubber plantation areas.

Coconut trees, coffee plants, hot pepper and banana plants are grown as intercrops within the rubber plantation to generate extra income to the farmers. Legume crops are grown as cover crops during the initial years of planting rubber plants.

Pest and disease management

Pests that infest the rubber plants are scale insect, mealy bug, termites, cockchafer grub, grasshoppers, leaf and mining caterpillars, moths, flies, bark feeding caterpillars, weevils, nematodes, molluscs and mites. These can be controlled using proper insecticides and pesticides like Malathion, chlorpyriphos, dicofol etc. available in the market.

The common diseases found in rubber plants are leaf fall, powdery mildew, bird’s eye spot, leaf spot, pink disease, bark and patch cankers, dry rot, stump rot, collar rot, charcoal rot, brown root, etc. oil based fungicides, Bordeaux mixture sprays, mancozeb, carbendazim etc. can be used to control the diseases.

Harvest and yield

Harvesting of rubber trees is the process of collecting the latex, which is generally termed as tapping. Rubber trees can be tapped after the age of 6 years only if they have attained required girth of the trees. If trees are grown using seedlings then they should attain a girth of 55 cm at a height of 50 cm from the base. Removing thin slices of the bark at certain intervals or periodically to collect the latex is called tapping. This process requires skilled labour. There are some rules for harvesting the latex, which are described below:

  • Tapping cut for budded trees has a slope of 30˚ and is directed from high left to the lower right.
  • Height of the cut should be 150 cm from the point of union
  • The depth of the cut should penetrate 1 mm thickness of the bark near the cambium
  • Length of the cut should not exceed more than half of the trunk
  • 2 cm for a new bark and 2.5 cm for a renewed bark is considered normal per month
  • The frequency of tapping can be done on alternate days, every three days or four days with intensity d2-100%, d3-67% and d4- 50% respectively
  • When it is a plain land 600 trees are tapped in one cycle
  • Tapping should be done early in the morning when the turgor pressure is high
  • of tapping days per month or per year decides the productivity of the trees.

The average yield from rubber plantation is expected to be 375 kg per hectare annually if the trees are grown from seedlings and if they are grown from budded plantlets then the average yield is higher and is estimated to be around 900 to 1000 kg per hectare. When the density of planting is higher, the yield is also higher per hectare of land.

Post harvest management

Processing of rubber after collecting the latex is considered an important step. The latex from the rubber trees is collected in containers made of coconut shell cups and then transferred to clean buckets. The dry latex on the tapping panel and the cups is also collected into the baskets before next tapping. The latex that leaks onto the ground is collected once a month. The latex is put through a centrifuge machine rotating at a speed of 1440 rpm due to which the liquid from the latex gets separated. The concentrated latex is collected into bulking tanks and here it is processed with chemicals and stored in drums. More than half of the rubber is present here. Skim latex is also collected and treated with sulphuric acid to get skim crepe.

To prevent the latex from drying before it gets marketed; some anti-coagulants are added to it. Then it is treated to remove impurities; latex is diluted to obtain 12-13% rubber. Straining the latex with a 60 mesh screen for the second time is done and then poured into coagulating tanks. Soft rubber is produced from slow coagulation such that it is easy to run on the rollers. Quick and thorough mix of acid is to be done with the surface rubber sheets. Once coagulation happens, sheets are washed under water and passed through power operated rollers. This roller squeezes out excess water and impurities. The prepared sheets are hung in the shade for 2-3 hours before dipping them into dust free solution. The sheets are slow dried in smoke houses with temperature of 48-50˚C such as to avoid blisters formation. After this they are graded and packed. Every product has its own processing technique and required machinery is needed to manage these processes.

Cost and Profit Analysis/Rubber Farming Project Report

Economics of Rubber Farming

The establishment cost of rubber plantation for 1 hectare of land is being listed here. The real values may slightly differ from the estimated values due to the difference in the material cost and variation in the location of the farm. The land rent, transport, irrigation, electricity, etc. are not being discussed here since they vary according to the place of cultivation. Only the necessary and most common things needed for the farm operations have been mentioned.

Assumptions:

Average cost of rubber planting material: Rs 75 per piece.

Average cost of manure per ton: Rs 3000.

No. of plants to be replanted during gestation period is approximately: 50.

Rate of labour per manday: Rs 200.

Cost of formic acid per litre: Rs 110.

Average cost of NPK fertilizer per kg: Rs 60.

Initial requirementsInvestment in Rs
Manure @ 5 tonnes15,000.00
500 planting materials37,500.00
Sprayer for watering the plants5,500.00
Cleaning the land @ 42.54 mandays8,508.00
Land preparation @ 70.03 mandays14,006.00
Manure application @ 6.12 mandays1,224.00
Planting into the pits @ 16.33 mandays3,266.00
Total investment85,004.00

 

Maintenance requirements during gestation period (2nd year)Investment in Rs
Planting material needed3,750.00
Manure requirements @ 10 tonnes30,000.00
Fertilizer requirements25,000.00
Insecticides and pesticides5,000.00
Fencing with bamboo25,000.00
Other miscellaneous charges10,000.00
Labour charges for re-planting, manure application and intercultural activity90,000.00 (depending on the no. of people working and the days involved)
Total investment 1,88,750.00

 

Material and labour required during bearing period (6th or 7th year of planting)Investment in Rs
4.95 tonnes of manure14,480.00
4.65 quintals of fertilizers27,900.00
6.51 litres of formic acid700.00
Fuel wood requirement10,000.00
Weeding and mulching @ 20.17 mandays4,034.00
Application of manure and fertilizers @ 17.17 mandays3,434.00
Tapping and latex collection @ 171.08 mandays34,216.00
Security for the farm @ 16.71 mandays3,342.00
Processing of latex @ 43.24 mandays8,648.00
Total investment1,06,754.00

The sale price of rubber depends on its quality and demand. It may vary greatly in between 40-100 per kg. The average sale price is considered to be 60 per kg.

Average yield per rubber tree is: 9.52 kgs.

The total yield from the plantation is approximately: 4284 kgs (from 450 plants).

Income from the plantation is: Rs 2, 57,040.00.

Profit generated in the 7th year of planting is: (Rs 2, 57,040.00 – Rs 1, 06,754.00) = Rs 1, 50,286.00.

The maintenance for one subsequent year is described here, but this has to be done using required amount of manure, fertilizers, intercultural practices, etc. for every subsequent year until the trees attain the bearing stage in the 7th year of planting. The investment during maintenance may vary depending on the requirements of the plantation. It is important to notice that irrigation details have not been mentioned here because it is assumed that the crops are being rain fed sufficiently.

Loans and subsidies for Rubber Plantation

There is a Rubber Production Department under the Government of India provides advisory and extension services to the rubber farmers through Rubber plantation development scheme. Some major activities of the department are to provide free advisory service to farmers, financial assistance for adoption of technology, training, supply of agro inputs and periodic impact assessment. Other than this the department also supplies planting material, cover crops, subsidy for rollers, subsidy for biogas plant, subsidy for irrigation, subsidy for fencing etc. For the north-eastern states of the country it has some extra schemes and assistance provision. So it is advisable that someone who is interested in rubber plantation work should visit the nearest Department office and get required help.

NABARD also has outlined different assistance programs for supporting rubber farmers and since the percentage of subsidies keep changing depending on the project pattern. It is advisable to visit or consult the required NABARD office for further assistance.

Read: Soybeans Growing.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here