Expert urges Davao Sur farmers to go into rubber plantation

October 23, 2009 9:56 am 

DIGOS CITY, Davao del Sur, Oct. 23 — An expert in rubber industry is urging Davao del Sur farmers to engage into rubber plantation as this can give them a regular monthly income in a period of 30 years.

During his recent visit here, Benneth Santander, consultant of the Rural and Upland Barangays Benefiting from Employment in Rubber (RUBBER) project of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and chief of Zamboanga Sibugay’s Economic Planning Unit, said rubber is a global industrial prime commodity whose price can be influenced by the farmers and not by the market alone.

Santander said that in the pricing of rubber, it’s the farmers who have the influence.

“With the high demand for rubber worldwide, the farmers always have an option not to sell their produce when buying price is low. They can keep their rubber and sell those once the price is already at a favorable level. Dili man perishable ang rubber (Rubber is a non-perishable product),” Santander said.

Based on record, the price of RSS (ribbed smoked sheets) grade 3 of natural rubber in the world market had been on an upward trend from 2001 until 2007.

The price of RSS 3 rubber was pegged at 227.07 US dollars per kilogram in 2007, a leap of almost 300 percent as compared to its level in 2001 which was only at 56.97 US dollars.

Santander said there is a present global shortage of natural rubber, whether in raw or processed form, mainly due to the industrialization of emerging giant Asian economies.

He said the shortage is estimated to be at three to four million metric tons (MT) per year.

The annual global consumption of rubber is 13.2 million MT wherein 70 percent of it goes to the tire industry and construction works and the remaining 30 percent goes to the non-tire industry such as shoes, gloves, medical wares, balls, among others, he said.

“The Philippines has 22,000 hectares of idle lands which can be used for rubber plantation. We can actually look at this as an opportunity,” he said.

Santander explained that for a fully-grown (old) plantation of one hectare with 500 rubber trees, the average yield is 0.60 kilogram per tree or a total of 300 kilograms.

At a price of P35 per kilogram, he added a farmer can generate an income of P10,500 per month.

“This may even increase to P18,000 if buying price reaches P60 per kilogram and if he doesn’t hire anyone to till his farm,” he said.

“In Zamboanga Sibugay, where rubber is a vibrant industry, buying price fluctuates from P20 to P60 per kilogram nowadays. This is already high because before the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) came in, it was only at P11 per kilogram,” he said.

Moreover, Santander said, the farmer’s income may even be augmented with the help of the latest technology in rubber farming. One of which is the reduction in the gestation period.

Before, a farmer had to wait for seven years before he can harvest from his rubber farm but with the new technology, it’s only three and a half years of waiting, he said.

Aside from the gestation period reduction, improved plantation materials and practices and introduction of integrated rubber-based farming (e.g. intercropping) may provide farmers a leap of 241 to 341 percent in their monthly income.

DTI-Davao del Sur provincial director Engr. Edwin O. Banquerigo said rubber plantation is another sector which can give so much opportunity to the local farmers especially that rubber tree can be grown together with other crops.

“Getting a monthly income of at least P15,000 for the family for every hectare of rubber for 30 straight years is a huge opportunity already,” Banquerigo said.

Banquerigo said DTI will get the support of the provincial government in its stance in promoting the industry in the area. (PNA) FFC/JGMM/lvp

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