MALAYSIA: One million ha high-yielding rubber possible

Once the aim projected by the Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB) is reached, Sarawak will be able to attract giant investors from the latex industry to set foot in the state, effectively reducing the export of rubber from neighbouring countries.

"The raw material which is concentrated latex must be sufficient to meet the demands of industries such as latex glove factories,” said MRB deputy director-general Akbar Said during the handing over of cloned rubber seedlings to some 300 farmers at Kampung Temenggong, Telaga Air.

He said latex glove factories would require at least 200,000 tonnes of concentrated latex while smaller industries need at least 120,000 tonnes.

"I have spoken to investors on their interest to set up factories in Sarawak, however their biggest concern is whether the state is capable of meeting their demand for raw materials,” said Akbar.

He said the six cloned seedlings distributed to the farmers took MRB 25 years to develop.

"Please do not share the seedlings with the neighbouring country as the research took much time and money,” said Akbar.

He said the cloned seedlings were capable of producing rubber trees that mature in four years instead of the traditional seven years.

"With new technologies and research, farmers are able to reap the profits in a much shorter time now,” Akbar said, adding that MRB would support the farmers.

Meanwhile, all the 300 farmers were given a certificate of participation in the rubber integrated planting programme under the Ark Bio Green Resources Organic World (Grow) Centre and given 10,000 seedlings to manage.

"Grow centre also provides financial assistance to our entrepreneurs in the form of starter kits and seedlings through our collaborated agencies, companies in Grow centre,” said Ark Bio Sdn Bhd executive director Lee Hock Yau.

Besides rubber, Grow's extension programme includes the introduction of mushroom, organic vegetable, jatropha and gaharu cultivation.

Under the rubber integrated planting programme, the centre will supervise seedling production through seed selection and a pre-germination process.

The programme assured farmers of raking in an income of RM3.50 for each bud-grafted seedling besides roping them in to be trained as entrepreneurs.

Lee said they aim to train at least 1,000 farming entrepreneurs in 2012.

Source: Daily "Borneo Post Online", Kuching, Borneo, Malaysia; 12 Dec 2011

(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)