COX'S BAZAR: The existence of rubber cultivation in Ramu upazila of Cox's Bazar that dates back to over six decades is now in a fragile condition for various reasons.
Lack of manpower and patronisation and mismanagement have put the rubber gardens in the area in jeopardy turning them ultimately into loss-making entities.
Rubber cultivation began experimentally in Ramu some 60-61 years ago.
Today, the rubber gardens in Ramu cover around 262 acres of land under the Bangladesh Forest Industry Development Corporation.
The manager of Ruby Garden, Nandi Lal Roy, said, "We cannot expand our work due to the shortage of manpower. Besides, frequent plundering of trees and encroachment upon land add further miseries to the gardens."
According to rubber garden officials, several portions of rubber gardens have already been occupied illegally by some people, and at present rubber trees have grown over 2,130 acres of land.
An average of 6,500 kilograms of dry rubber is produced from these trees every day, they said, of which market price is Tk13,50,000.
Member of Parliament Shaimum Sarwar Kamal said after the country's independence, rubber cultivation started commercially in Ramu following the directives of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
"Later, the government spread rubber cultivation in different areas of the country including Chittagong Hill Tracts. Not only that, we have patronised private-sector investment in it."
From shoes to sandals, bags to floor mats, chairs, tables, plates, doors, buckets, furniture and various other products are made from rubber.
Today, many rubber-made products are being exported abroad after meeting their domestic demand, said rubber factory insiders.
They added the Bangladesh Forest Resources Industry Development Corporation should take more steps to increase rubber cultivation and production.