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Rubber tapping is the process by which the latex is collected from a rubber tree. An incision is made in the tree’s bark, which cuts through the latex vessels, from which the product then flows.
Rubber tapping is hard work. It can starts as early as 2 am. The coolness of the early morning air encourages the latex to flow thus improving the yield. A special tapping knife is used to shear off a thin layer of rubber tree’s bark. Care must be taking not to cut too deep as this would injure the tree. The rubber tapper will then go back to each tree and empty the latex collected in the cups into the tin. Here the latex is poured into moulds. Then formic acid is added to coagulate the liquid latex.
The block of rubber is initially rolled using a wooden roller so that it is thin enough for it to be rolled by the mangle machine. The rubber sheet is manually rolled using the mangle several times to make it thinner by squeezing out the water. This make it easier for the sheet to dry. Normally, the drying takes place in a “smoke” house but often it is just air-dried underneath the house. Here, the dried rubber sheets are stacked up waiting to be sold to the middlemen