A more strategic policy for rubber smallholders

PETALING JAYA: The Plantation and Commodities Ministry (KPK) and the Malaysian Rubber Board (LGM) will work with relevant ministries and agencies in creating a more strategic policy to safeguard the welfare of rubber tappers and smallholders.

In a statement, KPK said it understood the situation experienced by smallholders, especially during a drop in rubber prices.

It said it will ensure that more thorough programmes and activities are implemented in order to ease the burden on these groups.

“The ministry is concerned about the issue of falling rubber prices and its impact on small rubber farmers and tappers across the country.

“This is especially in dealing with life when faced with the increasing cost of living,” the ministry said.

It added that the drop in rubber prices is closely related to various factors.

These include the sluggish global economic outlook, the increase in the supply of natural rubber, and the drop in the price of crude oil, which affect the demand for synthetic rubber compared to natural rubber in the manufacture of rubber products, concerns about United States-China trade relations and uncertainty from the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The ministry explained that regional market factors and global economic factors have a great influence on the movement of rubber prices in the market.

Malaysia also does not have a strong position as a producer to intervene unilaterally to increase the price of rubber in the international market.

This is considering that the country currently produces only 4% of the world’s total rubber production, it said.

“However, in an effort to help rubber tappers and small rubber farmers, the ministry and LGM have held a series of discussions involving various ministries and related agencies to reduce the impact of the drop in rubber prices,” the statement said.

The ministry also outlined a number of existing measures taken by the government to help rubber farmers facing the situation of falling rubber prices and rising living costs.

This includes implementing the Rubber Production Incentive or IPG to reduce the economic burden on smallholders when rubber prices in the market are low while also encouraging rubber tapping.

“Through the implementation of the IPG, smallholders will receive the farm-level rubber price (50% dry rubber content) of at least RM2.50 per kg.

“Since the implementation of the IPG from September 2015 until December 2022, it has been distributed to 202,533 smallholders nationwide with an expenditure of RM446mil,” the statement said.

In addition, the implementation of the MyROL method, or rubber marketing through an online tender procedure, encourages the achievement of more competitive offer prices to smallholders.

According to KPK, there are 11 rubber sales centres in Kelantan, Perak and Pahang that have used MyROL in their transactions.

This has benefited about 700 smallholders.

The ministry also implemented the Latex Production Incentive or IPL to give smallholders the opportunity to increase their income by encouraging them to increase latex production, as well as encouraging smallholders to switch to producing latex instead of scrap rubber (cup lump).

“For each smallholder rubber farmer participating in this programme, they will receive a cash incentive of RM1 per kg for 100% dry rubber content.

“The participants will also receive assistance in the form of agricultural inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides worth RM850 per ha on a one-off basis,” said the ministry.

The National Rubber Industry Transformation Project (Target) was implemented to ensure that local rubber planter cooperatives and operators can increase the income of small rubber farmers by shortening the supply chain.

The ministry, through LGM, has also introduced several mechanisms and innovations to ensure the distribution of aid to smallholders is done efficiently.

This is such as the implementation of the Rubber Transaction Authority Permit or PAT-G.

This is essentially an incentive to small Malaysian rubber farmers who own or operate rubber plantations.

“With this, it can not only curb rubber theft but act as a facilitator for every programme implementation and initiative carried out by the government involving small rubber farmers.

“On the other hand, the RRIMniaga is LGM’s smartphone application to facilitate rubber transactions by traders registered with them and it also records transactions more transparently which helps to monitor at the LGM level,” it noted. — Bernama

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