Although Goa is a non-traditional area for the production of rubber, 60-70 years ago this type of cultivation was taken up on a commercial scale (mostly in the East). The structure of the soil, the humidity, heavy rains and temperature are suitable for this type of plantation.
History of rubber
According to this site in 1876 a British explorer Henry A. Wickham, broke Brazil’s rubber monopoly. He smuggled 70,000 seeds of the Hevea brasiliensis (rubber tree) to the Royal Gardens at Kew, which they had been transplanted in Ceylon, India, Malaya, and the East Indies on efficient plantations.
Finding its way to Goa
Commercial plantation was commenced first by European planters who formed the ‘Periyar Syndicate’ in 1902 at Thattekad near Alwaye, Kerala, India. 1904 brought further developments particularly in central Kerala. In the same year, the Governments of Travancore, Cochin, Madras and Mysore encouraged rubber cultivation by granting land. It took six years to witness considerable activity in Hevea planting. By this stage, Mundakayam emerged as the leading centre of rubber plantations in India.
But one must wonder, how did these plants arrive in Goa? To answer that question, some enterprising planters took the initiative to plant these seeds in Goa in 1906. However the plantations in Goa did not make major advancements as compared to other states. The United Planters, Association of Southern India (UPASI) evinced keen interest in rubber cultivation and carried out research on various aspects, which helped in further development of commercial plantations.
Rubber statistics of Goa
Now days there are several privately owned plantations in Goa, some of which still carrying out the trade. The rubber plantations in the Konkan Region of Maharashtra have achieved varying degrees of success, for 35 years this has been undertaken by Silviculture Division of the State Forest Department.
From the table below you can gauge the size of the rubber market in Goa in 2002-03:
Environmental factors affecting production
Research by the government has proved that under the climatic conditions prevailing in the locality, which is marked by about 8 months of long dry period when temperature rise above 40 degree Celsius, followed by 4 months of long heavy monsoon period, rubber can grow and yield. This has to be supported by appropriate ago-management practices such as mulching, shading and limited irrigation.