Rubber production pushed in Southern Philippines to backup major farm crops

nurseryCOMMERCIAL production of rubber trees in Eastern Visayas, South of Philippines is being pushed by the Southern Leyte State University (SLSU) to backup price volatile and disease-prone copra and abaca.

The University’s President, Gloria Reyes, said that rubber trees thrive in many Southern Leyte areas and it is likely to be suitable in Samar and in other parts of Leyte.

Piloting the project, the SLSU has cultivated a half-hectare bud wood garden in their Southern Leyte campus to produce 50,000 seedlings for distribution to farmers across the province.

A hectare of bud wood garden, where seedlings are budded for one year, can supply enough planting materials to cover about 300 hectares of rubber plantation.

“We see rubber tree as alternative source of income for farmers affected by low copra price and abaca diseases. Rubber is growing well in Southern Leyte, it must thrive also in other areas of the region,” Reyes explained.

In 2011, the Southern Leyte Rubber Growers Associations was formed with members from Hinunangan, Silago, and Libagon in Southern Leyte; Abuyog and Ormoc City in Leyte. In 2012, the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) released a Php3 million budget for the construction of rubber nurseries and procurement of rubber seedlings from Mindanao producers.

Apart from the nurseries in Hinunangan, an agriculture research centre will also be set up in Abuyog in Leyte.

New rubber clones and other potential rubber varieties are planted to test for adaptability.

Meanwhile, SLSU continues to promote commercial rubber production through trainings and other capability-building activities to meet the increasing demand for rubber in major local industries as well as in the global markets.

Based on industry data, an estimated 70% of rubber produced in the country is consumed by the tyre and footwear industries.