MORE plantation operators have stopped tapping rubber trees due to a dip in the price of latex.
Instead, they are now depending on durian trees to cover the plantation’s operation cost.
One of the operators Yong Yuen Huat, 51, said 1kg of latex was now RM2.80 compared to RM10 some three years ago.
“The price has gone down. It was even worse some six years ago when the price was only 70sen per kg.
“At that time, many plantation owners replaced their rubber trees with fruit trees for a return,” he said at his durian stall in Jalan Sungai Ara 1 in Penang on Friday.
Yong said he leased some 300 rubber and 130 durian trees from a plantation owner in Bukit Sungai Ara.
“We need various jobs because we cannot depend solely on latex or durians alone.
“Rubber tapping can only be done about six months a year because the harvesting is affected during rainy days.
“For durians, the season only lasts about two or three months,” he said.
Yong added that the kampung durian could be sold at RM2.50 per kg.
“Each kampung durian tree can bear between 10 and 100 fruits each season,” he said.
Operator Goh Hock Tong, 70, said they needed to pay about RM30 per worker each day to tap rubber.
“We need at least three to four workers every day depending on the size of the plantation.
“Therefore, with the current price of latex, the tapping of rubber trees is now put on hold until the situation changes,” he said.