Philippine province latches on new technology to boost production

The Philippine province of North Cotabato, the country’s second largest rubber producer after Zamboanga Sibugay,  is introducing a  new technology to the local farmers to boost yield and ensure early maturity of rubber crops.

Under the Serbisyong Totoo Rubber Development Programme, which would include distribution of rubber seedlings for free,  the said technology is also expected to make the province the rubber capital of the Philippines.

The Myrna Gonzales Farm in Makilala where the recent Ceremonial Rubber Tapping of Budded Rubber  was held, uses the “big bag” technology with budded rubber seedlings in its 1,800 rubber trees.

The farm owners  combined four hectares of land planted to rubber trees and their farm has become a showcase of the province’s rubber programme  to help farmers improve production, increase income, increase buying price of latex, and stop the “dummy system” practiced for many years in the province.

The “dummy system” entails a person who does not have land to get tree seedlings for free from the government then sell them to the farmers.

South Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, in partnership with the Makilala based enterprise, Platinum Rubber Development Incorporated (PRDI), provided the “big bags” technology to the farmers.

Mendoza was reportedly encouraging farmers to start using the new technology instead of  the traditional “small bags” to benefit from early rubber tapping in four or five years, as well as to increase survival rate of the crop.

Under the programme, Mendoza said a farmer with a one-hectare land can get 500 budded rubber tree seedlings, which has only 10% mortality rate compared to the old technology wherein a farmer loses 50% of the seedlings.

A total of Php 60 million (est. US$1.2 million) worth of seedlings has been distributed to local farmers since the program commenced in 2012 up to 2018, according to provincial rubber coordinator, Engineer Agustino Arances.

Meanwhile, about 1,000 farmers with over 1,000 hectares of rubber plantations have benefited from the “big bag” seedlings. Officials estimated that 460,500 pieces of “big bags” rubber seedlings, and a million of the “small bags” have been distributed.

Jack Alfonso Sandique, president of PRDI, commented that this initiative on technology adoption aims to help the farmers as well as stimulate the rubber industry of North Cotabato.