Wednesday May 19, 2010
Local rubber sector to recapture its bounce
By HANIM ADNAN
KUALA LUMPUR: The local rubber sector is poised to remain competitive on the global front via revitalised strategies and action plans under the newly launched Malaysian Rubber Industry (MRI) Strategies 2010-2020 and Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB) Strategies 2010-2020.
By 2020, Malaysia is targeting for rubber productivity to hit 1.8 tonnes per ha per year, total production of about 1.8 million tonnes, total rubber planted area of 1.2 million ha and tappable area of one million ha.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said the formulation of the domestic rubber industry strategy to reposition the sector and sustain its competitiveness was timely given the highly challenging global environment.
Both the midstream and downstream sectors would focus on improving market share through value-addition and diversification initiatives, including sustaining the growth of the Standard Malaysian Rubber (SMR) market and creating the market for speciality rubber and value-added production.
Dompok said: “Our upstream sector is no longer a low-cost producer. That is why we need to improve tree productivity, efficiency and promote income diversification of smallholders.”
Under the new strategies, Dompok said MRB would be working with Risda, Felcra, Felda, Sarawak Forestry Board and Sabah Rubber Industry Board to ensure a more efficient transfer of technologies to increase rubber yield to 1.8 tonnes per ha per year by 2020 from 1.4 tonnes currently.
He noted that the downstream sector was also too narrow-based with almost 80% of export consisting of latex dipped rubber goods. “We need to diversify the product base especially with MRB having the capacity and capability to formulate, design and re-engineer new rubber-based products.”
Other strategies include facilitating entrepreneurs to be more daring at innovation, enhancing productivity and efficiency.
There was a need to develop a strong network between the private and public rubber-related organisations, Dompok said, adding that through the network, research and development (R&D) support could provide the extra edge for Malaysian rubber manufacturers.
Meanwhile, MRB newly appointed director-general Dr Salmiah Ahmad told StarBiz that the board had also formulated its own strategies in line with its expectation of becoming a global centre of excellence for rubber by 2020.
“As a custodian of the local rubber sector, MRB's responsibilities are wide-ranging from production to end-usage,” she said.
On the production side, MRB has to help sustain the livelihood of 290,000 smallholders via increasing land productivity and improving their income level as outlined under the New Economic Model.
The MRB strategies will focus on development of high yielding clones as well as development and adoption of mechanised and automatic systems in rubber plantations.
In the midstream and downstream sectors, Salmiah said there were pressing R&D needs to improve efficiency, market promotion, advanced materials and product diversification.
“This include the development of expertise and industrial support in tyre technologies, focusing on green tyres, with Malaysia poised to be a world-class tyre R&D and testing centre,” she added.