Risda: All must chip in to uplift smallholders

THE effort to modernise and enhance the productivity of smallholders in the rubber industry requires collaboration from all parties.

Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda) chairman Datuk Seri Dr Noraini Ahmad said cooperation between natural rubber production companies, university researchers, government agencies and private entities was crucial in advancing the rubber industry.

She said this synergy was not only important for the development of technology and innovation but also in expanding the reach and capacity of the industry.

"Based on rubber statistics in September, the country's natural rubber production reached 32,773 tonnes.

"Of this total, 28,041 tonnes (86 per cent) were produced by smallholders, while the estate sector contributed 4,732 tonnes (14 per cent).

"These figures emphasise the importance of the role played by smallholders in the rubber industry," she said at the closing of the National Direction Seminar for Rubber Industry Smallholders in Bangi yesterday.

According to Noraini, the rubber industry is facing complex challenges, including climate change affecting crop stability, global price instability and changes in market demand.

She added that the discovery of substitutes and alternative materials also posed a challenge to rubber usage.

"These conditions undoubtedly impact the entire ecosystem of the country's natural rubber production, subsequently reducing the income of smallholders," she said.

The National Direction Seminar for Rubber Industry Smallholders, facilitated by Risda and attended by 400 participants, is an initiative by the Rural and Regional Development Ministry to ensure the wellbeing and prosperity of more than 500,000 smallholders in the country.

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