The government has no plans to replace rubber with kenaf or bamboo, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof.
Fadillah, who is also the Plantation and Commodities Minister, said that, even though many rubber plantations have been replaced with palm oil, it is important for the production of rubber and scrap (cup lump rubber) to be maintained in this country.
“In fact, we have introduced a pilot programme (latex production incentive pilot project), to encourage the production of latex as opposed to scrap.
“This is because the price of latex is better, at the rate of RM5 better than scrap; by producing latex, smallholders and tappers can sell to factories directly without going through middlemen, and this will give them a better income,” he said during a question and answer session at Dewan Rakyat today.
He said that the latex production pilot project, which will be implemented for a period of one year, will start in Perak, before Kedah and Sabah.
Fadillah said this in his reply to a supplementary question from Salamiah Mohd Nor (PN-Temerloh), who wanted to know if the ministry intends to switch to kenaf or bamboo instead of rubber since it is more commercial and with a shorter maturity period.
Meanwhile, in response to Salamiah’s original question asking why the government still maintains rubber imports from Thailand, Vietnam and Africa, Fadillah said that it is to meet domestic demand, especially for the latex-based rubber product manufacturing sector.
He said that last year, the country’s latex production only amounted to 14,593 tonnes, while the rubber product manufacturing sector needed 365,000 tonnes.
“Also to meet the demand of the export market, especially dry rubber, last year the country produced 362,000 tonnes of scrap, but the export demand for dry rubber amounted to almost 1 million tonnes.
“In addition, the country’s natural rubber processing sector, with an estimated production capacity of 1.5 million tonnes, needs raw materials to continue operations and remain competitive,” he said.
He said that lower local rubber production, compared with the demand from the rubber goods manufacturing industry sector, has caused the country to still import rubber from other rubber-producing countries.
“In 2022, the country’s latex production is low, and can only cover around four per cent of total domestic consumption, but exports for latex-based downstream products, such as rubber gloves, are high at RM21.302 billion, equivalent to 78 per cent of total rubber product exports.
Read more at Malay Mail