MALAYSIA: Depressed rubber prices only temporary

He advised the 27,000 smallholders in the state to remain patient in facing the challenge as the government was doing its best to ease their burden following the depressed demand for natural rubber globally.

"We have requested for assistance from the government and to stabilize rubber prices.

"Some say rubber prices in Sabah is lower than that in Peninsula Malaysia and Sarawak. This is not true.

"The state government has given us grants that we can use to buy rubber at higher prices from the smallholders," he said, adding that the board would purchase the commodity above market prices, he told reporters after attending the annual general meeting of the Sipitang Farmers Organisation in Sipitang on 27 June.

Asked if farmers would reduce natural rubber cultivation, Ahmad Bujang said this was a global phenomena and beyond the government's control.

However, he said the government would continue to cultivate rubber on two million hectares of land throughout the country.

"The current depressed market for rubber is only temporary. God willing, prices will make an upturn and let's be ready for it," he added.

Ahmad Bujang also said the board was actively undertaking rubber cultivation on 128,000 hectares of land in Sabah and this would be stepped up from time to time.

Last year, the government allocated RM79 million for replanting purposes.

"There is no replacement or substitute for rubber. Synthetic rubber can only be used for specific uses, as such natural rubber still enjoys an international market," he added.

Source: "Bernama” (National News Agency of Malaysia), Kuala Lumpur; 27 June 2014
(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)