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DA studying rubber partnership with Papua New Guinea

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rubber plantation
REUTERS

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it is is studying a parnership with Papua New Guinea for the development of the rubber industry.

Agriculture Undersecretary for Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) Jose Gabriel M. La Viña told BusinessWorld in a chance interview that a collaboration is a “new possibility to look into” after Papua New Guinea Rubber Board Chairperson Josephine Kenni on Wednesday last week paid a visit to the DA.

“They’re looking at the same thing — how they can upstream their own rubber and plant more. Maybe we can get Filipino investors there to plant so maybe that’s something we can work together with them,” he added.

Mr. La Viña was appointed in June with a brief to develop the rubber industry.

“(Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol) is not happy about how our rubber is being bought very cheaply and comes back here very expensive in [the form of] tires,” Mr. La Viña said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said raw rubber exports in the four months to April dropped by 42.3% to $23.90 million while rubber manufacture imports in the same period rose 3% to $191.62 million.

AMAS wants to recruit more processors and manufacturers to locate in the Philippines, preferably closer to or in Mindanao, where the rubber industry is located.

Prior to the prospective rubber partnership, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea in March agreed to collaborate in rice production, with companies from the Philippines planting rice on a 100-hectare demonstration farm in Papua New Guinea.

According to the Philippines’ industry road map for rubber, the government has a revenue target of P100 billion by 2030.

The 2017-2022 road map also hopes to increase rubber exports by 10% while establishing a tire manufacturing facility in Mindanao.

The government, however, found that the land formerly allotted for planting rubber was used instead for bananas or cash crops.

Despite this, PSA reported that the first quarter of 2018 saw rubber (cup lump) production go up by 4.4% to 45,370 metric tons due to more tappable trees in North Cotabato and Zamboanga Peninsula. The bulk of the country’s rubber was sourced from Soccsksargen. — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato