The Philippines to invest over Php7.5 mn in rubber clones to up production

August 9, 2017

rubberThe Philippines’ Department of Agriculture (DA) is investing Php7.5 million (approximately more than US$148,000) for the testing of rubber clones from other countries as part of its efforts to increase annual production to three metric tonnes (MT).

Philippine Rubber Research Institute (PhilRubber) Executive Director Rodolfo L. Galang said the current annual average rubber yield is just less than a metric ton, or about 0.8 MT.

“We will test the performance of these clones and identify right away what is high yielding and suitable to the country’s different climate and environment situation,” Galang told reporters in a recent interview.

Galang said the Philippines received 22 rubber clones from five different countries: Thailand, China, India and Ivory Coast each provided five clones, while Myanmar gave two. He added that eight more clones—five from Ghana and three from Indonesia—are on the way.

“We will have performance trials in Zamboanga Peninsula, Cotabato region and in Caraga region. Because there are different planting environments,” he added.

“Eastern Mindanao is more vulnerable to typhoons compared to the Western part. We also planning to put up one in Palawan, because it has a big potential, and another one in Negros Oriental,” he said.

The DA’s performance trial is a joint program of its two attached agencies, PhilRubber and the Bureau of Agricultural Research, which provided the Php7.5-million grant for the initiative.

“We are still expecting 18 more clones from Myanmar. We just recently signed a memorandum of agreement,” Galang added.

He said the reproduction of the planting materials has already started in PhilRubber’s office in Zamboanga Sibugay.

The PhilRubber chief also said at least 200 planting materials per clone is required for every identified area for the performance trial.

Galang added that the planting of the clones in Zamboanga area and Cotabato could start within the first half of next year, just in time for the start of the rubber-planting season.

“We are now preparing a 20-hectare area in Zamboanga. It’s already okay in principle and we’re just waiting to sign the memorandum of agreement with the Jose Rizal Memorial State University,” he said.

“We have also identified an area in Cotabato, which is also 20 hectares, and we will set up a fence there. We’re just clearing the area,” Galang added.

The Philippines and its partner-countries usually exchange natural rubber clones. Galang said the Philippines has only one rubber clone, called USM 1, which was developed by University of Southern Mindanao more than a decade ago.

Once the performance trial is completed, the PhilRubber would identify the most suitable clone to plant in the country and would be recommended for the approval of the National Seed Industry Council.

Galang attributed the country’s dismal rubber yield to the failure of farmers to adopt modern planting technologies.

“Much of our small farmers, for example in Zamboanga Sibugay, who are only yielding as much as 0.4 ton, are still planting seedlings. This is prominent in the Zamboanga peninsula,” he said.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the country produced 362,625.97 MT of rubber in 2016, 8.91% lower than the 398,136.64 MT recorded in 2015.

Zamboanga Peninsula was the top rubber-producing province for 2016, accounting for 45.34% of the total output. Production in the region reached 164,413.87 MT last year, 7% lower than the 176,771.93 MT it produced in 2015.

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