The natural rubber industry in Sri Lanka is one of the enduring colonial legacies that is providing sustained socio- economic benefits to the country, even today.
Started in 1876, with the planting of 1,919 rubber seedlings at the Henerathgoda Botanical Gardens in Gampaha, Sri Lankan that became the origin of an uninterrupted and profitable supply chain of an agricultural commodity, Sri Lankan natural rubber has since acquired the status of an industrial raw material with a global significance.
The rubber industry links the traditional tree crop agriculture with sophisticated industrial manufacturing in a strongly interdependent manner that has made both the sectors more stable and competitive in the global market place.
Sri Lanka has a well established natural rubber industry with a well organized infrastructure comprising of all supporting institutes in public and private sector. Rubber Research Institute (RRI) of Sri Lanka is one of the oldest research institute for rubber in the world. Moreover Sri Lankan rubber sector is the third largest export earner of the country providing over 300,000 direct and indirect job opportunities to Sri Lankans across various professions and walks of life.
Rubber trees are grown systematically and re-planting programmes are carried out continuously in keeping with the recommendations of RRI. Sri Lankan rubber plantations mainly consist of many small holders as well as bigger rubber plantations that are managed by well established companies. There are already a number of international rubber manufacturers with state of art manufacturing units utilising the availability of premium quality rubber, in Sri Lanka.
The traditional rubber growing areas of Sri Lanka is located mainly in the wet zone in a land extent of 127,500 hectares. The country’s traditional rubber growing districts include Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, Kandy, Matale, Galle, Matara, Kurunegala, Rathnapura, and Kegalle.