forest

The Rubber Tree and its The White Gold

It was during my first jungle 50km trail marathon that I discovered my first rubber plantation

It takes about six years for a rubber tree to grow to a point where it’s economical to harvest the sap, which is called latex. The sap from the rubber trees is processed into a wide range of products around the world, although the use of synthetic rubber has resulted in a decline in the natural rubber industry.

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Where does rubber come from?

Historically speaking, Brazil used to stand as the number one rubber tree producer. It is not the case anymore. This species was native to Brazil, northern Bolivia and eastern Peru. At one point the rubber trade brought in 40% of Brazil export revenue, all from wild trees. What about today?

Rubber is now harvested in Africa, Central and South America as well as Asia, the latter accounting for greater than 90% of the production.

South East Asia Map | Organicisbeautiful
South East Asia Map | Organicisbeautiful

In the early 20th century, the British in Malaysia and the Dutch in Indonesia cleared large areas of rainforest to create rubber plantations.

A bit of history

Indonesia

Before 1945 the former Netherlands East Indies (nowadays Indonesia) was a colony of the Netherlands. It was in 1864 that the first rubber plant was introduced in Indonesia during the Dutch Colonization.

Malaysia

Peninsular Malaysia is among the world’s most important rubber growing areas. Rubber “pokok  getah” is also grown in the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo. Together the 14 states produce almost 20%  of the world’s natural rubber

Thailand

The first rubber tree in Thailand has been planted by a Thai-Chinese investor in 1899.

Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka’s rubber industry began in 1876 with the planting of 1,919 Hevea rubber seedlings in Henarathgoda Gardens in Gampaha.
First rubber plantation in Sri Lanka
First rubber plantation in Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, smallholders account for 63 percent of the area planted in rubber tree.

Beginning in the late 1970s, free trade zones were promoted in Sri Lanka as essential to economic development, and in support of the rubber plantation industry.

What does organic mean?

Grown without chemicals, synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Organic helps retain the health of our planet and its people by: providing safe work environments for cotton field workers, eliminating the use of damaging synthetic pesticides ensuring soil fertility is maintained and improved.

Type of products?

Since teh 1950’s, as tire manufacturing becomes more automated, demand for synthetic rubber, which is highly processable and consistent, also increase.

Synthetic rubber is estimated to account for 59.8 percent of consumption and natural
rubber 40.2 percent.
There are 2 interdependent sectors:
  The plantation industry, including smallholders, which grows rubber trees and harvests latex that is converted into stable concentrates and raw rubbers.
The rubber products manufacturing industry, which converts raw rubber into value-added finished rubber goods. Some examples of goods:
  • Tyres, tubes
  • Hot water bottles
  • Auto parts
  • Industrial components
  • Gloves, condoms, balloons
  • Boots, shoe soles
  • Jar seals
  • Carpets, mattresses
Rubber Gloves | OrganicIsBeautiful
Rubber Gloves | OrganicIsBeautiful

How natural rubber is made?

All natural rubber originates in the Hevea tree, and it begins its journey when the tree is tappped. Tapped?

Tapping means

to make a cut in the bark of the rubber tree
to harvest the latex.

Latex is harvested by tapping the rubber tree in a manner that does not harm the tree. How?
The trunk of a tree is composed of different layers.
  • The bark is the outside layer that protect the tree, same as your skin protect your body from external attacks. It is about 6mm thick.
  • The cambium is the “blood” of the tree: it is the part that makes the tree grow.
  • The wood is in the center.
For a rubber tree, between the bark and the cambium exists another layer, called lactiferous vessels. This layer contain latex. Voila.
Tapping latex from a rubber tree in Thailand - Organicisbeautiful
Tapping latex from a rubber tree in Thailand.

Some facts:

  • When the cut is badly made touching the cambium, the bark closes up badly. It splits and turns brown.
  • No tapping is made during dry season. Each tree are tapped early morning on a regular and fixed-time basis.
  • After the tree no longer produces latex, it is harvested and its wood is turned into lumber

Reference

OrganicIsBeautiful SignatureGold Rubber

Ultra Rail in the jungle – Gallery & Learning

Volcano + Rain + Forest

I’m very pleased with myself, I finished my first ever 50km run last month. It feels like a massive achievement and I want to be able to look back on it.

I’m an ultra runner. Oh Yes!

The TMBT is a self-supported trail marathon set in Borneo, Malaysia by the Mount Kinabalu. You know that I love nature, and running across so much tropical wonders has made me realised how lucky I was.

Finishing the marathon becomes irrelevant, what I got to see, to experiment made the entire ultra-trail experience unforgettable. Here are some pictures I took during the race. If you want to know more about my feelings, learnings and tips, please check that article ♥ Link

The race starting at 7:45am on a sunny day. We were all cheerful, joyful, full of energy!

 

The first 10 km, oddly, was mentally almost the toughest – perhaps knowing how long there was still to go. But it quickly eased off, I had to found my own stride, a gradually steady speed, and the next 10 km seemed to go amazingly quickly.

And there is was, the Mount Kota Kinabalu.
And there is was, the Mount Kota Kinabalu.

I took this picture while running. If you look closely, you will get an idea of how far the Mount Kota Kinabalu is standing. Keep this in mind, and scroll down to check how closed I got to the Mount.

It took +-10hrs.

On the way, the scenery was magical. Yes, magical! I mean it! It is the only word that pop into my mind. Beside the weather (mostly sunny with some rain), the mud, the muscle pain, the mental struggle & Co, it was the best day of my life!

For my next marathon, I intend to buy a proper camera (any advice?), my old Samsung Galaxy has fallen to grab the purity of the landscape. Magical.

I know you want more, right? Below a few more pictures 😉

When I got back home and told my friends about my achievement, the questions I received the most was related to handling water management as well as food. Although the TMBT 2015 was a self-support trail run, every 10km (or so), a check point is set with staff. You can grab some food, water and also, if you wish, tell them that you wish to stop here and not go further in the race.

I have to apologize to you. The last 10km, especially the last 5km were though to the point all my energy was directed to cross that fu**** line, so I did not take any picture, silly me! This say, I arrived at the crossing line at around 9pm ish, in the full darkness of the Borneo island.

I started the race at 8am and finished at 9pm, 12hrs later.

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learning

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