Expansion of rubber production pushed

Published by rudy Date posted on July 19, 2010

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Agriculture’s high value commercial crops program (HVCC) seeks to expand rubber production and entice more foreign investors by opening up new areas in Palawan.

HVCC program director Rene Rafael Espino told reporters that the department was targeting a 9-percent growth in production to keep up with local and global demand. Espino said the department was looking at additional 20,000 to 30,000 hectares of property for rubber.

A plantation of this size is ideal for one large investor who may spend $2,000 to $3,000 per hectare for a complete production cycle—from planting rubber to processing the sap into rubber sheets, he said.

The Philippines produced 407,640 metric tons of rubber in 2009, down 0.83 percent from 411,040 tons in 2008. This followed a 1.72-percent increase between the 2008 output and the 404,070 tons in 2007.

The DA attributed the decrease in rubber production in 2009 to softening demand and drop in prices in the world market. Globally, analysts said that recession lessened demand in the manufacturing industry.

The low demand resulted in lesser tapping reported in Agusan del Sur, Compostela Valley and Davao City, which are major rubber producers.

There were also reports of lower rate of fertilization of rubber farms in Zamboanga del Sur and a reduced number of mature trees was noted in Zamboanga del Norte.

In terms of planted area, some 128,000 hectares were planted to rubber in 2009, up from 123,000 in 2008 and 111,000 in 2007. But production is expected to pick up again as demand recovers in markets coming out of recession. –Riza T. Olchondra, Philippine Daily Inquirer

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