MALAYSIA: First rubber cultivation station, budwood centre launched

The Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB) has scored another first with the successful establishment of the MRB Similajau Station and Malaysian Rubber Budwood Centre (MRBC).

The 1,180 ha station and 45 ha MRBC were expected to be the catalysts for rubber cultivation in Sabah and Sarawak, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.

Dompok officially launched the station and budwood centre on 28 Jan. 2011, witnessed by Sarawak Land and Development Minister Datuk Dr James Masing, MRB chairman Datuk Wira Ahmad Hamzah and MRB director-general Datuk Dr Salmiah Ahmad.

Sabah and Sarawak are potentially the major players in domestic rubber plantation due to the availability of large tracts of land in both states. They would be the beneficiaries of the high quality rubber clones produced by MRBC, said Dompok.

The MRBC is expected to produce 3.24 million rubber budwoods per year. Its focus is in high-yielding and quality latex clones like RRIM 3001, RRIM 928, RRIM 929 and PB 350.

The centre will also produce timber clones such as RRIM 2023 and RRIM 2025.

"My ministry is targeting 500,000 ha in Sarawak and 300,000 ha in Sabah to be planted with high-yielding rubber trees by 2020. When these rubber areas are planted with high-quality planting materials, the production and income of rubber smallholders can also be increased,” said Dompok.

The Ministry is also expecting rubber productivity to increase to 2,000 kg per hectare per year compared with 1,470 kg per ha per year currently.

Apart from high-yielding planting materials, Dompok said: "We would like to inculcate honesty, integrity and good agricultural practices among the smallholders, particulary in the production of high-quality dry rubber content.”

In Malaysia, 94% of the natural rubber production is contributed by smallholders.

"There have been incidents whereby the dry rubber content was tampered with foreign elements like sand and small pebbles in the daily production of rubber by smallholders,” added Dompok.

Meanwhile, the MRB Similajau station houses rubber seed production area, rubber budwood nursery, polybag nursery, special management zone, commercial plantation, germplasm research facility, office and residence.

The station is aimed at providing technology transfer of new clones and agronomic practices through exhibitions, training and R&D to smallholders, private agencies and the Government.

In addition, it will provide high-quality planting materials to government and private agencies involved in the industry.

The station's special management zone is targeted for eco-tourism development.

A senior MRB official said three more MRB stations and budwood centres - Kota Tinggi (Johor), Sg Sari (Kedah) and Bukit Kuantan (Pahang) - would be set up in Peninsular Malaysia this year.(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)