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Rubber, which is elastic in nature is a polymer which carries hydrogen and carbon. Rubber can be made synthetically, but it is mainly found in the latex or fluid of rubber tree. Latex collected from tapped rubber tree (also known as Hevea Brasiliensis) is refined into rubber for commercial processing.
Rubber plant has the lifespan of 100 or more years; but 32 years is generally considered as the most economical life-cycle of a rubber tree. Synthetic rubber is produced through the process of polymerization of various monomers.
Rubber is a flexible material; it returns to normal shape even if it is twisted or stretched but when rubber is heated, it is not easy to get back to its original shape.
Synthetic rubber and natural rubber are the main rubber varieties. Natural rubber is also known as India rubber. A fluid, which is white in color, obtained from rubber tree which contains small rubber particles and plant proteins is referred as natural latex.
Auto tyres, auto tubes, automobile parts, footwear, belts, cables & wires, battery boxes etc are the main products from rubber industries.
Hevea Brasiliensis is the most economical rubber producing plant. The latex or fluid is obtained from the plant through the slanting cut made in the bark of the trunk; this process is called tapping. Initial six years, the plant does not produce any rubber. It takes about 10 years for the plant to produce bountiful latex.
Hot and humid climate is most appropriate for the rubber plantation. Although rubber plants can survive drought, it needs humid and wet conditions to grow.
The leading producers of rubber plants are Asian countries but the plant was first introduced by South America.
China leads the list of the top rubber consuming countries, followed by India at the fourth place.
Automobile and transportation sectors are the largest consumers of natural rubber.
The top rubber producing countries are Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Vietnam, China, Philippines, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Srilanka.
Major rubber exporting countries are Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Ivory Coast, Germany, Guatemala, Belgium, Myanmar, Singapore, United States, Liberia, Luxembourg, Cameroon and Laos.
China, United States, Malaysia, Japan, India, South Korea, Germany, Brazil, Spain, France, Turkey, Canada, Italy, Poland and Belgium are the main importing countries of rubber.
Major rubber producing states in India are Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Maharashtra and Tripura.
Local trading hubs for rubber in India are:
Kerala (Idukki, Kottayam, Kochi, Kozhikode, Kannur) Tamil Nadu (Kanyakumari).
Rubber is traded in the commodity futures market at National Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd (NMCE) in India.
Internationally rubber is traded in Tokyo Commodity Exchange (TOCOM), Singapore Commodity Exchange (SICOM), Osaka Mercantile Exchange, Bursa Malaysia, London Stock Exchange (LSE) and New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
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