10/04/2010

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PHILIPPINES: Larger rubber tree plantation to soon rise at UPLB's land grant

A large rubber plantation will rise soon at the University of Philippines Los Banos (UPLB)'s Laguna-Quezon Land Grant (LQLG) in barangays Sta. Clara and Tipuan within the boundary of Laguna and Quezon province.The rubber tree, Havea Brasiliensis, is among the recommended species for planting in the community-based UPLB land grant because rubber trees grow well under its good climatic and environmental condition.Dr. Art Castillo of the UPLB's Bureau of Agricultural Research, said a 10-hectare portion of the LQLG has been allotted as site for the proposed large rubber plantation, which, when set in place, will demonstrate to, and encourage residents in the area to venture into rubber planting.Dr. Castillo, Ms Vicky Mariano and Ms. Corazon Calimag have just arrived from a tour of two rubber plantations of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-PENRO) and the Palawan Agricultural Experiment Station of the Department of Agriculture (DA-PAES) in Quezon and Puerto Princesa to further acquaint themselves on the knitty-gritty of the rubber technology.The trio visited a rubber tree farm in barangay Isogod, Quezon, Palawan not only to observe how quality rubber tree seedlings are being raised and how budded seedlings are being produced, and eventually source rubber tree seedlings to be planted at the UPLB LQLG.Castillo said they found in Palawan that rubber trees thrive well with other cash crops such as cassava, fruit trees and vegetables.Forester Sofronio Camacho, manager of the Land Grant Management Office of the UPLB's General Forestry and Natural Resources department, said that part of the UPLB LQLG land is being cultivated for Citronela essential oil to increase the forest cover of the area.According to Dr.Castillo, the rubber tree is indigenous to South America and was introduced to the Philippines in the early 1990s. It grows to an average height of 15 meters and is named as such because it is the source of latex that is processed into rubber.Rubber wood is a semi-hard wood and may be used as a construction material after undergoing several treatments.The rubber tree can be propagated either by seeds of budding although the later is recommended for faster growth and higher chances of survival, he said.Castillo said that budwood gardens are a necessary component of a rubber tree nursery, noting that in their Palawan sojourn,they noticed there were 1,000 ready clones still unbudded reportedly due to delayed funds from the DA's Bureau of Agricultural Research, thus, were unable to secure the seedlings needed for initial planting at the UPLB land grant within the Laguna-Quezon boundary.He said one nursery protocol is the compatibility of seedlings with the same species, soil, and existing weather conditions. At the nursery, budded plants as well as plants from seeds are ready for distribution.Agriculture researchers said that rubber is a profitable venture, noting that the Bagong Pag-asa Foundation in Isogod, Quezon, Palawan they visited owned by Patrick Charles Dugan, a BS Forestry graduate, invested in a drying plant and set up a processing plant because the plant needs more latex to process than the present plantation can provide.Dugan's business was a very successful business, they said.Based on their experience in Palawan, Castillo and company are urging UPLB officials to immediately push through with the rubber tree plantation project at the LQLG, but said that, first, we must put up a nursery thereat, buy rubber tree seeds in Mindanao for propagation and when grown up ready to be planted, we should apply proper plantation management, which includes spacing, fertilization, and weeding, all of which are important ingredients in producing good quality stocks.He said their expectations in the Palawan visits were met and they had the privilege of seeing for themselves the plantations of enterprising individuals who have been earning from rubber trees for the past 15 years."Pretty soon, we will be bringing the world of rubber right to our very own doorsteps with the establishment of a rubber tree plantation at the LQLG.(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)

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