Rubber-tapping in the Amazonian rainforest
: a century ago it was a booming business and a livelihood for local people, but it has since given way to the development of cheaper, oil-based synthetic rubber materials. Now, in its progressive approach to both health and poverty, Brazil is reviving the practice of rubber-tapping
in order to produce that much sought after commodity – the condom
Brazil is the world’s biggest importer of condoms (from Asia), which the government distributes for free as part of its anti-AIDS campaign and, more recently, to poorer families as part of a drive to combat hunger. Now, in the town of Xapuri in the north western state of Acre, they are producing their own condoms
with manifold benefits. Manual extraction of rubber does not kill the trees and so utilises the rainforest without destroying it. At the same time it is providing work and income for some 550 families
, doubling the incomes of some. This in turn reduces economically driven deforestation incentives.
If this domestic product develops into an export, then the area of sustainably farmed rainforest will increase. Let’s hope that soon we can all play safe the Brazilian way.
Also on their way are natural rubber purses and handbags by designers working closely with the Rubber Tappers Association.
Article by Sarah Hosmer
Photo by: Alamy,Silvia Izquierda, AP