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29. May 2006

PHILIPPINES: Firm to put up 1,400-ha. rubber farm

Source: Daily "The Manila Bulletin", Manila; 29 May 2006

The Japan-Philippines Latex Technology Inc. (JPLT) has
programmed a 1,400-hectare planting of rubber in
Bukidnon in order to supply a rubber processing
facility in Laguna.

JPLT planted since 2002 rubber trees on 600 hectares
in Talakag, Bukidnon to supply raw rubber its Laguna
factory which requires rubber production from a
minimum of 2,000 hectares to be able to become
economically viable.

While it is not known how much investment JPLT is
allocating for the additional rubber planting, rubber
consultant Arturo M. Sanvictores, also president of
natural rubber producer Apsons Inc., indicated that
maintenance and tapping (harvest of rubber) of a
12-year old rubber farm will require P28,772 per
hectare to produce rubber latex.

Rubber latex production brings a 52.13 percent return
on investment and a net income of P19,806 per hectare
given the costs. Maintenance expense of P8,100 per
hectare includes cost for brushing, P1,000;
fertilization (labor and fertilizer), P4,800; and pest
control (labor and chemical), P2,300.

Tapping expense of P28,772 per hectare includes
P17,340 for tappers’ share; equipment and materials,
P11,100; and incidental expenses, P3,654.

The Philippines has tremendous potential to become a
major rubber exporter as it earned million from the
export of 36,889 metric tons (MT) or P.51-million
worth of natural rubber as crepe sheets in 2004 and
6,416 MT of natural rubber in plates worth P.98
million.

Its export markets are China, Taiwan, Malaysia, and
Singapore. Other rubber products are exported to
Japan, European Community, US, Australia, South Korea,
Hong Kong, and Middle East.

There are markets for new products such as rubberized
coir mattress and pots where there are only two big
manufacturers in the world which are found in China
and Taiwan. Both countries import both natural rubber
and the coir from raw material producers like the
Philippines.

The need for the combination of raw materials rubber
and coconut coir makes the prospects highly-attractive
for the Philippines to upgrade its processing
capabilities.

The rubber and coir mixed materials are made into
resilient, aerated beddings, upholstery, furniture,
and for erosion control. The unique
coconutfiber-natural rubber blend also has
applications in flat and molded basket liners,
horticulture, shoes soles, packaging, and filtration.

"This has much demand because of its environmentally
friendly nature of being recyclable and
biodegradable," said Sanvictores.

China requires at least 200 MT of bailed fiber per
month for rubberized plants while the US, Europe, and
Australia are good markets for plant liners and
coco-peat garden growers.

>From the rubber trees in forests, the rubber material
or latex is maintained on its liquid form by adding
preservatives and is collected daily in buckets and
sent to the factory for dry rubber content (DRC) test.

A centrifuge processes the latex that passes standard
DRC test so as to separate the concentrated latex from
the skim. Before shipping these out for intended
markets in Japan, the concentrated latex is stabilized
using chemical salts and is allowed to mature in steel
or plastic tanks.

For the Philippines to thrive in the rubber industry,
the government needs to establish regulatory processes
in establishing a nursery which should include
accreditation to impose quality control on seedlings.

Technical services to farmers in the rubber production
area and provision of credit to farmers for their
planting of food crops or cash crops for them to
sustain their daily needs while waiting for rubber to
mature in five to six years.




(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)

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