Developing sustainable natural rubber (NR) should encompass the economic and well-being concerns of the rubber smallholders and not solely confined to the environmental and deforestation issues, said the Asean Rubber Business Council (ARBC).
In a recent meeting in Singapore, the ARBC expressed concern over the sustainability initiative set by NR consumers.
It said that the current global NR market situation, especially the unremunerative NR prices and higher production costs, had affected the sustainability and well-being of the rubber smallholders.
“While acknowledging the need and importance of NR sustainability in the industry, the members were concerned over the sustainability issues which have impacted the livelihood of the smallholders.
“The ARBC members thus stressed the need that a sustainable NR industry should benefit both producers and consumers,” it said in a statement on Monday (March 20).
The regional council said the major concern was that the low NR prices coupled with the higher cost of production could affect the supply chain of rubber in the global market should the smallholders decide to switch to other crops or activities that are more lucrative.
“Therefore, having sustainable NR pricing is very important and should be urgently addressed against increases in the cost of production and the rising cost of living that have put rubber farmers in difficulties.
“NR prices need to be attractive enough to ensure that the smallholders continue to remain in the industry so that they would continue to supply the necessary raw materials to meet the needs and demands of the consumers and end-users alike,” it said.
The ARBC members, which comprise the rubber trade associations of Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar, account for around 71% of the world’s total NR production.
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