Natural Rubber tree or Para Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis – Family Euphorbeaceae) is originally a native to Amazon and Orinoco river basins in Brazil and Bolivia in South America. But since it tends to be attacked by a fungal disease in South America, rubber is not produced in significant amounts there. It was Sir Henry Vickham successfully introduced the Natural Rubber tree or Para rubber from the Amazon forests of Brazil to South East Asia. The Commercial cultivation of natural rubber in India started in the Southern State of Kerala in 1902.
But the first ever living rubber tree came to the capital city of Kerala – Thiruvananthapuram in 1880 as a gift from the Britishers to the then Raja of Travancore, His Highness Visakham Thirunal Ilaya Raja. The photograph below shows the century old (approximately 137 year old) rubber tree growing luxuriously in the premises of Thiruvananthapuram Museum.
Image Courtesy: Sandeepa Chetan’s Travel Blog
About 90 percent of the world’s rubber is produced in south and southeast Asia, where its commercial cultivation began a century ago. The Periyar Syndicate, a European venture, began the first rubber plantation near Aluva in Kerala in 1902 with seeds brought from Brazil. India is the sixth largest producer after Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Malaysia. In India, Kerala alone accounts for 80 percent of the country’s rubber, followed by Tripura and other states.
- Shri. Nazeer M.A, Retd. Joint Director, Rubber Research Institute of India
- First Post Media