Rubber

Amazonian tappers

The Amazon is the only place on earth where rubber trees grow in the wild.

Inside the Chico Mendès extractive reserve, located in the Brazilian state of Acre, Veja work with Amopreab, an association of Seringeiros – the rubber tappers. We also recently started to work with two new associations located in Feijó Distric in the state of Acre: “Parque da Cigana” & ” Seringal Curralinho”. Today, 60 families of Seringeiros are part of our project.

The Amazonian rubber tappers live in the forest and harvest from the trees. The rubber is then used in the soles of Veja trainers.

The rubber tappers use a new technology developed by Professor Floriano Pastore of the University of Brasilia (link in Portuguese).

This process, called FDL (Folha Desfumada Liquida – Liquid Smoked Sheet) allows the rubber tappers to transform latex into rubber sheets, without any industrial intermediary processes.

The sheets of rubber are then directly sent to the factory and shaped into soles.

This technology permits the Seringueiros to sell semi-finished products and receive a higher income.

Since 2007 Veja has been working with Bia Saldanha, the Brazilian Green Party co-founder and environmental activist. She provides technical support for the rubber tappers and she coordinates the rubber supply chain.

The Amazon: sustainable management vs short-term profits

Since the 60’s, the increasing use of synthetic rubber derived from petroleum has resulted in a very low price for natural rubber.

The inhabitants of the forest have thus moved from rubber tapping to more profitable activities such as cattle-raising and wood extraction which both involve land clearing. As a consequence, soils are no longer protected by the cover of vegetation and are subject to an accelerated erosion rate and desertification.

The survival of the Amazonian rainforest is dependent on more sustainable management of its resources. Latex extracted from rubber trees is one of them.

A fairer price paid for latex guarantees a better income for the rubber tappers and might be perceived as an incentive to keep trees up.

In 2012 Veja bought Brazilian wild rubber (FDL) at 2.33 EUR/kg.

As a matter of comparison, the price of planted natural rubber from São Paulo varied between 1.60EUR/Kg to 1.90 EUR/Kg – according to the GEB-1 index in 2010. Synthetic rubber price is determined by oil price and varied between 1 EUR/Kg and 1.2 EUR/Kg in 2010.

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