PHILIPPINES: Government pushes rubber production in Mindanao

The government is seeking more investments in rubber plantations in Mindanao, partly as a way of generating jobs.

"Natural rubber is preferred in the international market to synthetically produced rubber because of better plasticity retention index," said Benneth G. Santander, consultant of the Labor department's Rural and Upland Barangays Benefiting from Employment in Rubber program, in an interview.

Investments are needed particularly for more nurseries, processing plants and quality testing laboratories, he added.

Bureau of Agricultural Statistics data show that 404,000 metric tons of rubber were produced in 2007 from 111,000 hectares of plantations in Mindanao. Top rubber-producing provinces that year were: North Cotabato, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur and Basilan, which accounted for 93% of total output nationwide.(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)