Tuesday, August 11, 2009

An educational tour

When I was in Cyberjaya to attend my son’s convocation, I had a chance to drop by Taman Warisan Pertanian or Heritage Park of Agriculture. It was really an educational tour. For one thing we got to go round an orchard where all the fruit trees in Malaysia are grown in one place. For another, we had the chance to witness how rubber is produced from tapping to smoking.

Mr Zulkifli, the driver of the buggy took us around the orchard with his electric jeep. When we set foot on the demo site, Mr Saravanan took over the duty of showing us how rubber was tapped. According to him, a tree can be tapped for 25 years. A rubber tapper will tap the left side of the stem for five years, then he will do the tapping on the right side. For the next five years the front side will be tapped, then he will do the tapping on the reverse side. Finally, the last five years will be spent tapping the top part of the stem.

When the tapping knife cut into the bark in a slanting position, latex will flow down into a cup. After two hours, the latex will be collected. Then it will be mixed with water and a few drops of formic acid will be added to make it coagulate. The coagulated slab of rubber will be pressed by hand until it becomes a thin sheet. Then this sheet of rubber will be pressed using two types of rollers. After that, the rubber sheet will be smoked for 20 hours in the smoke-house.

After smoking, the rubber sheet will turn brown. This sheet of rubber will be sold for RM6 per kilogram at the current price. According to Mr Saravaran, it used to fetch a price of RM12 per kilogram.

Although I have been to a rubber estate, this was the first time I had a chance to see all the processes done at one shot at the demo centre at the park.

The model rubber estate

See how the latex flow into a cup

The coagulated rubber sheet will go through this roller first

Then it will be pressed using this roller

The pressed rubber sheet will be put into this smoke-house for drying

The rubber sheets turn brown after being smoked for 20 hours

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