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13. November 2006

PHILIPPINES: Rubber industry can earn P120B yearly for RP

Source: The Philippine Star 13 Nov 2006

A fully developed Philippine rubber industry can
generate as much as P120 billion a year for the
country.

This was stressed by Gov. Emmanuel Piñol of North
Cotabato, one of the country’s provinces with the
largest areas devoted to rubber.

"If we could plant rubber in one million hectares, we
could earn revenues of about P120 billion in a year
and create at least 500,000 jobs in the countryside
directly for rubber farmers," Piñol said.

The North Cotabato governor’s forum was a program held
recently at the provincial gymnasium in Kidapawan City
during which a revitalized National Rubber Development
Program (NRDP) was launched.

The NRDP is a consolidation and integration of the
country’s rubber programs. It is an initiative of the
Department of Agriculture (DA) and its bureaus and
agencies, the North Cotabato provincial government,
the academe, local government units (LGUs), and the
private sector, specifically rubber corporations.

Piñol said it is about time the Philippines did
something to catch up with other rubber-producing
countries such as Thailand (the world’s number one
producer), Vietnam, India and Indonesia.

"The name of the game is world market," he said, as
quoted by DA-BAR’s Miko Jazmine J. Mojica.

Piñol pointed out that the NRDP will be an effective
reforestation program as well since it projects
planting 500 million rubber trees nationwide.

Then Agriculture Secretary Domingo F. Panganiban also
encouraged LGUs nationwide to open new areas in
provinces identified to have potential for natural
rubber production.

These include Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao, both in
Mindanao; Antique, Negros Oriental, and Negros
Occidental, all in the Visayas; and Benguet, Isabela,
Mindoro Occidental, Palawan and Camarines Sur, all in
Luzon.

"To be successful," Panganiban had said, "the rubber
development program requires sustained collaboration
among the national government agencies, local
government units, private sector, non-government
organizations, academe, and financial institutions."

Records show that as of 1999, only 91,442 hectares
were planted to rubber, down from 117,911 ha in 1990.

The most recent figures show that there were only
81,925 ha devoted to this cash crop.

Zamboanga Sibugay has the largest rubber area,
followed by North Cotabato and Basilan.

Mindanao has over the past century been "rubber
country."

At least 18 provinces comprise the "rubber corridor"
in southern Philippines. These are Basilan, Zamboanga
del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga, Sibugay, all
in Region 9 (Western Mindanao), Bukidnon, Misamis
Occidental, Misamis Oriental, all in Region 10
(Northern Mindanao); Daval del Sur, Davao del Norte,
Davao Oriental, South Cotabato, Compostela valley, all
in Region 11 (Southern Mindanao); Lanao del Norte,
North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat, Region 12 (Central
Mindanao); Agusan del Sur and Agusan del Norte,
CARAGA; and Maguindanao, Autonomous Region in Muslim
Mindanao (ARMM).

The recently crafted National Rubber Development
Program is in line with the Department of
Agriculture’s goal of developing new lands for
agribusiness ventures and to fulfill President
Arroyo’s agenda of job creation and balance of trade
through exports.

It is in response to the growing domestic and global
demand for natural rubber and its increasing price in
the world market.

Corollary to this, rubber is now a priority commodity
in agricultural research, development and extension
(RDE), stressed BAR director Nicomedes P. Eleazar.

"We are now promoting rubber production in Luzon and
the Visayas, in collaboration with Dr. Eugenio Alcala,
rubber expert from the University of Southern Mindanao
(USM) and Philippine Rubber Board, Inc. (PRBI). We
have identified suitable areas in Luzon, particularly
at Mt. Arayat in Magalang, Pampanga," Eleazar
reported.

Strongly supportive of the NRDP is the "National
Training of Trainors on Rubber Production and
Management" being implemented by DA-BAR, PRBI, and the
DA-Agricultural Training Institute (ATI).

Dr. Alcala said the key is to train more people in
rubber production and management who in turn will
share their knowledge to other rubber farmers and
hopefully encourage them to increase their production.


"This is the only way the country can keep up with
rubber-producing countries. The Philippines has a long
way to go, but it can be started now since there is a
growing interest in and demand for rubber in the
global market," he concluded.



(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)

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