Minister: Malaysia's downstream rubber industry could reach RM8 billion in value if untapped smallholdings are developed

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's downstream rubber products sector has a potential to reach RM8.8 billion in value.

Plantation and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani said this could be achieved when the country seriously looks into the vast areas of untapped rubber smallholdings nationwide.

He said the ministry was working with the Malaysian Rubber Board to develop a plan to help smallholders establish a better ecosystem for downstream rubber products.

He said once the ecosystem was better, it will help to improve the value of the country's rubber manufacturing sector.

"Among issues discussed in a recent meeting with the Malaysian Rubber Board were the 420,000ha of smallholder plantations that remain untapped due to a shortage of workers to carry out rubber tapping activities.

"Almost 585,000 metric tonnes of rubber latex can be obtained annually from these untapped land, with a gross domestic product value of RM2.3 billion.

"If this quantity of 585,000 metric tonnes is processed as downstream rubber products, it could help this value to reach RM8.8 billion," he said on Facebook.

However, Johari acknowledged there were several challenges faced by the rubber industry.

He said Malaysia was among nations which manufactured tyres for the automative sector, insulated wires, conductor cables, gloves, shoes, tubes, pipes, hoses and various other things, but it lagged behind because rubber tapping was not what it used to be.

"This has caused our country to face a low level of rubber cuplump (scrap), and low production of latex through the years. Because of this, we are forced to import cuplump and latex from trees from foreign countries for Malaysia's manufacturing sector.

"This is happening even though we are manufacturing rubber products."

He said Malaysia still has plantations in good condition, but the shortage of workers has been a big challenge for smallholders.

He said the recent meeting with the Malaysian Rubber Board included its chairman Datuk Zurinah Pawanteh and director-general Datuk Dr Zairossani Mohd.

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