Rubber output threatened by shortage of area and labour

SINGAPORE: Rubber production in Malaysia, the third-biggest supplier, is threatened by less plantation area, labour shortages and low yields, said Aliasak Ambia, president of Malaysia's National Association of Smallholders.

Rubber plantations were about 1.7 million ha 10 years ago and have shrunk to slightly less than one million hectares now, Ambia said in an interview at the World Rubber Summit.

“The Government now wants to maintain at least one million hectares,” he said.

Farmers have been shifting to oil palm, which takes a shorter time to produce yields, compared with the seven years before a rubber tree can be tapped, Ambia said.

Yields were low for small growers, he added.

“Researchers said our potential yields should be 2,800 kgs per hectare per year, but small growers are producing at 1,441 kgs,” Ambia said.

Malaysian rubber growers need to import foreign laborers as there was a domestic shortage and this contributed to higher production costs, he said. - Bloomberg

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