But can farmers in Luzon grow this plantation crop? It can also be a profitable crop to grow in Luzon, according to Dr. Eugenio Alcala, a rubber planter himself and former head of Plantation Crops Department of the University of Southern Mindanao in Kabacan, North Cotabato.
At the recent Agri-Kapihan conference, he revealed that there are actually a few farmers in Luzon who are making some money from rubber. In fact, together with Pol Rubia and Jerry Manaog of AANI, they visited the rubber farmers in Sta. Maria and Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
He reported that in Sta. Maria, there are five growers who are already making good money from their rubber trees. One of them has 4,000 trees grown from seedlings (not grafted) that are already 15 years old.. The fellow is very happy because he does not have any problem selling his harvest.
Dr. Alcala learned that the buyers from the processing plant in Sta. Cruz go to pick up the cup lumps from the farmers. They pay P70 per kilo. They are already happy about the price although it is lower than the P95 per kilo obtaining in Mindanao.
Including plantings in other towns of Laguna, there are already 200 hectares planted to rubber in Luzon. It was really a surprise for Dr. Alcala to discover the rubber farmers in Laguna. He could not imagine that there are planters in Luzon because many people, including people from the Department of Agriculture, thought that rubber is not suited in Luzon due to the strong typhoons that occur annually in the island.
Dr. Alcala said that farmers should not be afraid of the typhoons. If there are trees that are felled by typhoons, there are more that survive. In fact two provinces in China - Hainan and Yunan - are also frequently visited by typhoons but they have wide areas planted to rubber. Between the two of them, they have 1.028 million hectares planted to rubber trees.
That's much larger than the total area of 145,000 hectares planted to rubber in the Philippines, according to Dr. Alcala.
Is it viable to plant even just one hectare? Alcala said that a hectare of rubber trees that are more than 10 years old can yield P30,000 to P35,000 worth of cup lumps per month.