A new rubber processing plant in Agusan del Sur could spell progress for the area. 

by Noel T. Provido (DA-MRDP)

Rubber processing will be given a big boost with the establishment of a ₱31.6 million natural crumb rubber processing plant in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur.

A rubber farmer in Agusan del Sur thoroughly taps rubber tree to extract enough rubber latex. The establishment of crumb rubber facility in the area is expected to boost income of rubber farmers from increasing demand for raw rubber material as well as value-adding activities.

The said facility, which was recently turned over, is a big-ticket project of the Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP), a special project under the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Through the MRDP’s Community Fund for Agricultural Development (CFAD), the Farmers Alternative for Self Reliance Multi-Purpose Cooperative (FASRMCO) was able to access the ₱31.6 million fund for the establishment of the processing facility, which is equipped with a creper and macerator, shredder, trolley dryer, hydraulic baling press, and weighing scale.

“The facility is expected to produce high-quality semiprocessed natural crumb rubber for tire and footwear manufacturers,” said MRDP livelihood specialist Samson Mate.

He said the facility will also improve the consistency and standard of the plasticity retention index of natural crumb rubber products and increase the value of rubber cup lump, the coagulated rubber latex.

“The province has no existing commercial rubber processing plant, except the conventional processing type,” Mate said.

“With the facility, rubber farmers can have an annual incremental income of at least ₱3,600 – ₱6,900 per hectare (in the form of) savings from freight and handling if (their produce is) delivered to processing centers in North Cotabato,” he added.

As of 2011, Agusan del Sur has 13,321 hectares planted to rubber, and 4,972 are already productive. The total volume of cup lump production was 15,273 metric tons, with an average production of 3.1 metric tons per hectare.

“These are the sources of cup lump for milling in the province’s crumb rubber processing center, which has the capacity of at least 4,337 metric tons,” Mate said.

MRDP program director Lealyn Ramos said that the MRDP, through its program advisory board, has approved the funding of big-ticket livelihood projects to provide wider opportunities for famers to expand production into enterprise.

“This crumb rubber facility will not only reduce hauling costs, but more importantly, it will enable our farmers to earn more through value-adding activities,” Ramos said.

This story appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s September 2014 issue.