KUALA BERANG (Nov 27): The government is planning the use of the inoculation or injection method on rubber trees trunks to enable rubber tapping to continue even during the monsoon season.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin said trials of the effectiveness of this approach are currently being conducted in several rubber plantations, including in Melaka, and it (the method) is expected to be introduced to smallholders within a year.
"We call this inoculation or injection-like system because a spot on the [rubber] tree trunk will be grafted and a tube will be directed into a closed container. Therefore, if it rains, the smallholders will not have to worry anymore,” she told reporters after the #Keluarga Malaysia Agricommodity Tour programme at Dewan Budiman in Kampung Kepah here on Saturday (Nov 27).
She said her ministry is also ready to provide financial assistance to smallholders to purchase equipment for the inoculation method, which is expected to cost between RM10 to RM20 per unit.
The ministry is also looking into using a chemical solution that could be channelled through the tapping tube on the rubber tree in order to increase productivity and quality of rubber products.
Meanwhile, Zuraida said her ministry would discuss with the Ministry of Finance and relevant ministries such as the Ministry of Rural Development which manages the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (RISDA) to find ways to increase the floor price of scrap rubber.
Recently, several parties, including Baling Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, raised this issue in the Dewan Rakyat, suggesting that the government consider setting the floor price of scrap rubber at RM3.50 per kilogramme as a long-term measure to increase the income of smallholders in the sector.
Abdul Azeez said if this is implemented, it would be able to increase the average income of rubber smallholders to about RM2,625 a month, compared with less than RM1,500 a month currently.
On the #Keluarga Malaysia Agricommodity Tour in Kampung Kepah, Zuraida said it is one of the ministry's initiatives to share information and take note of the needs of rubber tappers.
“The contribution of rubber tappers has been vital to the country's economic development since before independence,”she said, adding that Malaysia is the world's sixth largest exporter of rubber.