Produce latex for better income, Risda tells smallholders

A woman taps a rubber tree at a plantation in Kuala Nerang, in northeastern state of Kedah, in this September 14, 2009 file photo. — Reuters pic

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BALING, Oct 15 — The Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda) is encouraging smallholders to harvest latex as opposed to cup lumps to boost their income.

Risda chairman Datuk Mohd Salim Mohd Shariff said this was because of the higher price of latex at RM7 a kilogramme (kg) as compared to cup lumps at RM2.50 per kg.

“The sale of latex can give more than double the income to the rubber smallholders, however, we must change the pattern of yield, namely, from cup lumps to latex.

“Except that, to get a latex yield, smallholders must endeavour a bit more, work harder, but the benefit is in being able to minimise cases of theft, which often happens in the case of cup lumps,” he told a media conference here today.

He said this would required the co-operation of all parties, especially the willingness of the smallholders themselves.

According to Mohd Salim, Risda was prepared to create new latex collection depots if there was demand from the smallholders in certain places.

“To date, there are 12 latex collection depots nationwide, including two in Kedah, namely, in Sik and Padang Terap, eight of the depots are actively operating, encompassing 245.5 hectares (ha) of rubber smallholdings.

Mohd Salim said the district of Baling had the potential to become a major latex producer in the country as it had the largest area of rubber smallholding in peninsula Malaysia at 13,988 ha involving 9,979 smallholders.

“I visited an RM40,000 latex collection depot in Sik this morning which is fully completed and expected to be operational in January next year.

“We will endeavour to set up a latex collection depot here in Baling too if there is demand,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mohd Salim said Risda would ask the government to consider raising the floor price for cup lumps to RM3.50 a kg from the current RM2.50 a kg from January next year, to boost income for smallholders.

“Indeed, the smallholders are hoping for a better and more stable price. The palm oil price is touching RM1,000 a tonne but the floor price for cup lumps is RM2.50, there has been no increase.

“The income of the smallholder can be raised to between RM2,100 to RM2,200 a month if the floor price of cup lumps is raised by RM1. As such, we hope it can be raised in the 2022 Budget,” he said.

Earlier, Mohd Salim, who is also Risda Foundation chairman, distributed Prihatin Basket aid from the foundation to smallholders in Kampung Haji Abas and Kampung Lubuk Pedati here who were affected by floods recently.

Overall, 1,096 smallholders from three districts in the state, namely, Baling, Sik and Padang Terap, who were affected by the floods, received the aid involving a total of RM54,800.

Also present were Risda director-general Abdullah Zainal and Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim. — Bernama