THE Government expects to reach its target of at least 800,000ha of rubber trees in the country by 2012, said Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Aziz Shamsuddin.
So far, he said 500,000ha of rubber trees had been planted mostly by 350,000 smallholders in cluster farming areas.
Another 50,000ha of rubber trees were in plantations.
Abdul Aziz said achieving a minimum of 800,000ha would ensure a consistent supply of rubber and establish Malaysia as a key producer in the world.
Malaysia is the world’s third largest exporter of rubber with an annual production of 1.2 million metric tonnes.
“If the trees at the 800,000ha were to produce 2,000kg of rubber per hectare per year, this would give us 1.6 million metric tonnes. That is a lot of money, and at good prices.
“The present world market price of rubber sheets is RM7.36 per kg,” he told reporters after visiting Kampung Balun rubber tree replanting scheme in Slim River, Perak, recently.
Abdul Aziz said he and Risda director-general Datuk Mohammad Izat Hasan would approach each state to allocate land for the remaining 300,000ha.
So far, he said the Perak Government had approved over 1,000ha for the replanting of rubber in Ganda, Gerik, while work had started on a 4,000ha plot in Pulau Banggi, Sabah.
Pahang and Sarawak had also pledged 500ha of land each, he added.
During the visit, Abdul Aziz presented certificates to 101 participants who attended a three-day course to study the success story of the replanting scheme in Kampung Balun.
The village, which started planting rubber trees in 1990, began producing a record 2,004kg of latex per hectare each year with Risda’s help from 2003.