South Cotabato one of 11 provinces chosen for rubber dev’t program

The other priority provinces are Antique, Benguet, Bukidnon, Isabela,
Maguindanao, Negros Occidental, Occidental Mindoro, Palawan, Sarangani and
Zamboanga Sibugay.

Reynaldo Legaste, South Cotabato chief agriculturist, said the P55-million
investment was part of the government’s commitment to fast track the
expansion of rubber plantations in the 11 provinces.

“The province will initially get P5 million as kick-off fund for the
program,” he said.

Nine of South Cotabato's 10 municipalities were identified as suitable for
rubber plantation, making it one of the priority sites under the NRDP.

The NRDP, a brainchild of Cotabato Gov. Emmanuel Piñol, is primarily aimed
at reestablishing the country’s rubber industry.

Piñol, who was tapped as the program’s focal person, earlier said the
country needs to refocus its programs for the rubber industry so that it
would not be left behind by other rubber- producing countries such as
Thailand, Vietnam, India, and Indonesia.

He said the program will anchor on the planting of 500 million rubber trees
nationwide during the next decade.

As part of the program, a national training program on rubber production and
technology was launched last month at the University of Southern Mindanao in
Kabacan, Cotabato.

The state-owned university is presently considered as one of the country’s
centers for rubber research and development.

Legaste said the training program covers technologies on rubber cloning,
germplasm collection, seeds germination and budding, rubber processing,
village-level latex processing and quality control.

The NRDP, which was launched in Kidapawan City in late August, was
formulated to further build up the country’s position as one of the top four
players in the world natural rubber industry.

According to the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Agricultural
Research, at least 81,925 hectares are currently planted with rubber in the
country. The top rubber planters are Zamboanga Sibugay, Cotabato and Basilan.

A DA report cited that the world consumption of natural rubber is projected
to increase by 3.5 percent per year until 2015. The current price of 91
cents per kilo of rubber cup lumps in the world market is also expected to
double to $2 by that year.