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Rubber Plantations on Phuket

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Although tourists and the visitors supply some of the economic means of the survival of the tropical island of Phuket, it also has two other well known resources. One of the two was tin mining which was mostly worked by Chinese who migrated to the island, over a century ago. The other resource Phuket Island had was the many rubber trees, or better known as rubber plantations.

When the use of rubber actually became popular those in charge of Thailand realized the benefits of harvesting sap from the rubber trees. Soon Muslim- Malayan cultures began to settle on Phuket Island and working.

With the decline in tin mining however, some of the Chinese immigrants needed another means of work too.

The first rubber tree was believed to be introduced to Phuket Island, Thailand in 1901, however the exact date isn't certain.

However, rubber tree plantations began to flourish all over the island. Although there were several different types of rubber trees, the most common for Phuket Island was the Para Rubber tree. Now, Chinese and Malayan workers all had a place in the rubber plantations.

The Para rubber tree can grow up to 30 meters and grows best in a warm tropical environment.

People on Phuket Island realized that when the Para rubber tree was six years old it would produce the sap needed, and this is when the harvesting began on Phuket island, Thailand in the rubber tree plantations.

At the age of six, the tree was big enough to also withstand cutting into the bark for the sap. Workers would get up before sunrise and would cut into the bark of the rubber trees. After this, the milky white sap was allowed to run into coconut halves or pottery bowls and then collected.

It was then mixed with other ingredients in a flat tub and after becoming solid rolled between two cylinders giving it the shape of a small mat. These mats were bought by middlemen and delivered to factories.

With changing times of course, the way sap is collected and dried is very different now. However, the rubber tree remains a resource for Phuket Island, Thailand.

Today Thailand is the world's biggest producer of rubber.

Last Updated: 10 Sep 2010