Fr. Thomas
Fr. Thomas   Photo: Mathrubhumi

Thodupuzha: A priest offers double yield from rubber cultivation with the new rubber variety he developed. Father Thomas hails from Cheenikkuzhi at Udumbannoor in Thodupuzha. The new rubber is named as ‘Thadathil’, and is expected to give double the yield for rubber planters. He developed the new variety after 3 ½ decades of continuous experiments.

The new rubber variety offers double profit in terms of growth and production compared to the ordinary ones. About 1.5 kilogram of dry rubber can be taken from 10 trees. This is double the production from the commonly cultivated variety RRI-105. Besides, the bark is thicker and latex more consistent.

The bark at the tapped portion will be grown into the older state within 3 years. He planted 350 saplings of RRI-105 bought from Rubber Board in 1983. One of the saplings grew better than the other ones and produced 1.75 litre latex per day after tapping was started. As an experiment, he cut the vertical part of the tree trunk and stopped tapping from it. Meanwhile, new shoots grew on it, which he used for budding in the rubber saplings planted in 1.5 acres of land. The trees grew 57 cm within 7 years. When tapping started, 25 kg dry rubber was obtained from 130 trees.

Since the trees were bud woods from the same tree, all the trees wee of equal size and produced equal amount of latex, which was yellowish in colour. Genetic quality is assumed to be the reason for this. He has also started a nursery with bud woods taken from the tree. Many farmers keep visiting the site. Fr. Thomas is trying to get patent for the ‘Thadathil’ rubber variety. A team headed by former union minister P C Thomas will be visiting the plantation. The ‘Rubber Asia’ magazine and the ‘Rubber’ magazine of Rubber Board also have published articles about the achievement of Fr. Thomas.

Elamdesam Block Assistant Director of Agriculture Cissy P. Mathew told Mathrubhumi that an unusual production rate was visible in the plantation of Fr. Thomas during their study. They observed five of the trees for several days and high production was confirmed. It was evident from the quantity of latex also. She added that a scientific study is required to find whether the reason behind the phenomenon is gene mutation or overuse of fertilisers.