April 17, 2018
MAKATI – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) led the inter-agency signing of the Joint Statement of Commitment for the “Philippine Rubber Industry Roadmap 2017-2022” on 16 April 2018.
“The cluster approach [that addresses the gaps and opportunities in the entire value chain from the rubber production to processing and manufacturing of finished products] is the way to go,” said DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez. “This industry is critical in helping achieve President Duterte’s vision of real inclusive growth since the rubber production sector involves over 55,000 small farmers/growers.”
Ninety percent of the rubber farmers in the country are small growers, most are from the Mindanao region – Zamboanga Peninsula, SOCCSKSARGEN, and ARMM.
“DTI is committed to expand market and processing opportunities for their products by bringing in more investors on rubber processing and rubber-based products, like tire companies, and linking them with the local rubber suppliers,” the trade chief added. He also said Philippine (PH) rubber can be used for rubberized asphalt for road projects in the government’s “Build Build Build” program.
Meanwhile, DA Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said that rubber has a crucial role in the reformatting of the PH agriculture plan.
“The agricultural areas I’ve visited suffer from the same problems: soil erosion and landslides. These are indications of poor agricultural planning – where farmers are planting crops where we should be planting rubber trees,” Sec. Piñol said.
The roadmap outlines steps in the following aspects of rubber production: (1) Production & Productivity Improvement; (2) Processing and Manufacturing; (3) Domestic and Export Marketing, (4) Research, Development and Extension; (5) Finance and Investment Promotion; and (5) Information, Policy Formulation and Advocacy.
Aside from the DTI and DA, the inter-agency cluster consists of the departments of Science and Technology (DOST), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and Agrarian Reform (DAR), as well as the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), the Philippine Rubber Industries Association (PRIA), the Philippine Rubber Farmers Association (PRFA), and the University of Southern Mindanao (USM).
PH is currently a minor producer of rubber, yielding 1% of the natural rubber in the world as compared to top producers Indonesia and Thailand that produce 25% and 34% of global production, respectively. Despite this, the PH rubber industry is steadily growing – for the last quarter of 2017, rubber production grew by 8.9% to 138.24 thousand MT from 126.94 thousand MT in the same quarter of 2016.