PIA Press Release
DA eyes 10% hike in rubber production to 450,000 tons
Manila (25 July) -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) is looking at a 10% expansion in the country's natural rubber production to 450,000 tons this year as part of a 15-year plan to make the Philippines a major player in the global rubber industry and generate nearly a million jobs from this promising, dollar-generating sector.
Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said this growth target will help meet the growing demand of the domestic tire and footwear industries, which absorb 70% of the country's production, and raise rubber exports to $56 million this year from $42 million in 2007.
"In all, the rubber industry forms a major component in our bid to develop new opportunities for rural progress and agricultural growth," said Yap in a keynote speech read for him by DA Undersecretary Jesus Emmanuel Paras during the 4th ASEAN Rubber Conference at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Mandaluyong City.
"We would like to unlock the vast domestic and export potentials of natural rubber, in tandem with industry stakeholders led by the Philippine Rubber Industries Association (PRIA), United Rubber Producers & Processors Association (URPPA) and local government units (LGUs)," he said.
Yap is currently attending the High Level Conference on World Food Security hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, where he had proposed the establishment of a global food reserve or stockpile as an immediate and long-term measure to help resolve the global food crunch.
The agriculture secretary said the DA's sustained initiatives to increase rubber production is part of its 15-year Rubber Development Program (RDP), which was launched in 2006 to enhance the productivity and competitiveness of the Philippine rubber industry-in partnership with PRIA, URPPA, Filipino and foreign investors, LGUs, and farmers' groups.
As part of the RDP, Yap said the DA is aiming to expand the current area planted to rubber to one million hectares and increase production and exports to $960 million by 2020, which, in turn, is projected to create at least one million jobs for plantation workers, tapers and processors.
"Some of the fundamentals for developing a strong, competitive and sustainable local rubber industry are already well established in the country," said Yap in stressing that the Philippines can become a major player in the global rubber industry.
He said that the country possesses three fundamentals for developing "a strong, competitive and sustainable" local rubber sector, which are: favorable agro-climatic resources; availability of suitable areas for rubber farming even outside of Mindanao; and market and industry dynamics that allow growth for smallholder operations
He said that under the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani-High Value Commercial Crops Program (GMA-HVCC), the DA will undertake the following tasks within the medium term in pursuit of the 15-year RDP:
Intensify production of planting materials through investments in bud wood gardens and nurseries, and strengthen nursery certification systems, and provide needed support in the establishment of foundation groves/scion groves;
Intensify transfer of technology through trainings and publications;
Establish vital facilities in production areas to enhance product quality, including common service facilities at the village level; and
Put up a rubber testing laboratory in Zamboanga Sibugay.
"All these efforts form part of our initiatives under the 15-year Rubber Development Program (RDP) we launched in 2006 to enhance the productivity and competitiveness of Philippine rubber industry-in partnership with the PRIA, URPPA, Filipino and foreign investors, local government units, and farmers' groups," Yap said.
"As part of the RDP, we are aiming to expand the current area planted to rubber to one million hectares, and increase production and exports to $960 million all by 2020. Such expansion is expected to create at least one million jobs for plantation workers, tappers and processors," he added.
Paras, for his part, said that through the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) High Value Commercial Crops Program, the DA is aiming to open 21,600 hectares of additional rubber areas this year, in addition to the 20,500 hectares developed last year.
He said that these expansion efforts, which are being carried out without affecting the vital rice farms and prime irrigated lands in the midst of the global supply crunch, are taking place in the South Cotabato-Cotabato-Sultan Kudarat-Saranggani-General Santos City region or Soccsksargen (10,000 has), Zamboanga Peninsula (8,200 has), Caraga (1,000 has), ARMM (1,000 has), Northern Mindanao (500 has), Davao Region (500 has) in Mindanao; and (400 has) in Palawan.
To support the expansion program and the implementation of other intervention measures, Paras said the DA needs to invest at least P300 million over the next two years in this sub sector-at least P70 million this year, and another P226 million in 2009.
This year's conference - whose theme emphasizes knowledge sharing on industry trends and prospects as a foundation for future growth and modernization-is therefore very auspicious amidst the prevailing global economic currents, he said.
In particular, he added, it gives the country a venue we hope to convince potential investors, Filipinos and foreigners, to seriously consider and put their stake in the Philippine rubber industry.
Paras said prospects are bright for rubber farmers around the world as global consumption has been increasing by approximately 208,000 tons since 1995, and is expected to reach 31.8 million tons by 2020.
In 2007, the Philippines exported roughly $42 million worth of latex, rubber plates and other rubber products, mostly to China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia.
The growth of the rubber sector was sustained during the first three months of 2008, as harvests increased by 6.8%, to 65,000 tons. The Top 3 rubber-producing regions are Soccsksargen (35,700 tons), Zamboanga Peninsula (2,700 tons) and Davao Region (2,800 tons).
Last year, the national production of natural rubber from 111,000 hectares of farms expanded by 15% to 404,000 MT worth P15.4 billion, from 351,000 tons valued at P12.3 billion in 2006.
At least 190,000 Filipinos are directly and indirectly dependent on rubber farming as a major source of livelihood and incomes.
Of this number: 700 are employed as buyers and traders, and another 600 work in the country's 30 processing centers; around 38,000 families work as planters who are predominantly smallholders, with each family owning an average of 3 to 5 hectares of rubber farm; and another 38,000 families are employed as part-time off-farmers and tappers. (PIA-MMIO) [top]