The incidents happened for last two weeks added another dimension to add more to write on the problems faced by rubber small holders in Sri Lanka. This is a very serious situation, not only the rubber small holders like me but also big plantation companies face in this country on daily basis. This problem is not only confine to the rubber estates, the tea estates are also in the same situation. That is "stealing the plantation products from the estates". During the last weeks, a few trust worthy villagers informed me that the rubber has been stolen from the land for last two years. That was not a surprising news, I had some information; even my brother and my ex have seen our tapper's family carrying dried crape rubber sheets. But I was helpless to take an action. I had to keep on depending on him.
This is the same situation every where in Sri Lanka. Unless the owner is there in the Estate 24/7, the labourers steal whatever they can take from the estates. If it is a rubber plantation, they will steal latex, dried rubber on tapping routes of the trees and collection containers, and dried rubber sheets. This happens during the broad day light as well as at nights or even during the rainy days that rubber trees are not tapped. The tappers of the garden as well as neighbouring villagers steal rubber products. In tea estates, they pluck the tea leaves at nights, leaving nothing for owners.
When it comes to the bigger plantations, the stealing happens in a much organized way. If you visit the rubber stores/buyers in the nearby towns, you can witness the nature and magnitude of the crime. The villagers as well as labourers tap rubber trees bordering to the villages. It is an organized crime. The criminals often have the blessings of the local politicians to terrorize Estate owners and managers.
The shameless, cunning tappers of our land were so shrude, the played every trick in the book to prevent me selling rubber trees for timber. They wanted to continue the old tactic as long as they could. Growing grass and mining rock won't help them to get easy cash for a long period. They influenced the silly villagers to come to the road to block trucks carrying rubber trees. I had to get the help of the police to resolve the matter. I feel sick of handling the issues of the land. Although untold, many small holders face the same situation in Sri Lanka, suffering endlessly in the clutches of the unruly villagers and power hungry and money greedy politicians. I have my faith only on my business partner who is a cleaver and cool headed man with lots of experience of managing people.