In his opening remarks, Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhay Ly, Chairman of the Council for Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the Royal Government of Cambodia is of a single mind that rubber is an important agro-industry crop in generating income within the agro-industry sector and for rural farmers by developing the market locally. He added that even though other crops such as rice have made considerable contributions to national income, natural rubber remains an important agro-industrial crop that provides work for all local people.
By Sok Lak
25 countries from rubber–producing countries attended the “Global Rubber Conference 2011” to discuss the development and investment of the natural rubber industry in Cambodia.
It will help promote relations and cooperation among rubber industry entities within and outside the region,” the report from organizers said.
The event was organized by the Association for Rubber Development and co-organized with Confexhub with the co-operation of the General Director of Rubber of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on November 24-26 in Phnom Penh.
The Global Rubber Conference was developed by the founder of the ASEAN Rubber Conference as an extension of already existing organizations in order to support the growth of the global rubber industry by delivering unbiased information on current topical issues and chart the future direction of the natural rubber industry. It included the facilitation of exchange of ideas among the global rubber leaders and industry players, delivering the latest innovations by global research institutes, producing an analysis of price trends and the facilitation of investment and business matching.
In 2010, Cambodia produced 42,000 tons of rubber latex, which is 0.29 percent of global natural rubber production and is ranked 16th among other natural rubber producing countries while adding that the area for planting rubber tree has increased 30 percent per annum, from 136,107 hectares in 2009 to 181,400 hectares in 2010, and only 20 percent of the total plantation area could be harvested in 2010.
“The goal of government is to increase the plantation area to 300,000 hectares, which can produce around 290,000 tons of latex by 2020.”
He stressed that a majority of natural rubber producing countries have been happy with a big change of productivity through the breeding of rubber that produces much latex, owing to the good agronomic management and the improvement of processing technology, but the area of rubber plantation in those countries has decreased, resulting from the conversion of agriculture land for urban development.
However, Cambodia has not only increased the area for rubber plantation but also has invested in the development of more product rubber clones and implemented good agronomic management among agro-industry rubber growers and also family sized growers.
H.E. Ly Phalla, Dictor General of General Directorate of Rubber, said that the agro-industry rubber plantations cover larger areas compared to those of small and medium scale rubber plantations in a ratio of 55 percent, a trend differing from the other natural rubber producing countries in Asia such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, where small and medium scale rubber plantations account for over 86 percent of their countries’ total rubber plantation areas.
According to 2010 data, Cambodia saw a rise in the total number of rubber plantations at 181,400 hectares with 45 percent coming from rubber smallholders, 29 percent from the rubber estate plantation on Economic Land Concession, and 26 percent from the agro industrial rubber plantation area. “The data indicates a surge in the planting area of up to 45,343 hectares or 33 percent from a total of 136,107 hectares in 2009. The rubber harvesting area makes up only 20 percent and produces an annual average yield of 42,000 tons of rubber.” He stressed that the current trend indicates that Cambodia’s natural rubber industry is at a crucial stage of development, most notably in rubber plantations where investors within the framework of the Economic Land Concession program which records dramatic growth of 13 percent year-on-year growth since 2009.”
Mr. Mak Kim Hong, President of the Association for Rubber Development of Cambodia, said that rubber has long been a major commercial crop and export earner for Cambodia. However, the price of Cambodia’s natural rubber has experienced ups and downs influenced as it is by the demand and supply from the international market.
He stressed that Cambodia’s rubber growing potential is great, but the Cambodian rubber industry is still facing many challenges and constraints that hinder the sector’s development.
“The issues are more prevalent in the smallholding sector, particularly in the usage of low yielding clones, limited availability of plant material, inappropriate tapping techniques, unpopular credit facility centers and high interest rates charged by private financial institutions as well as low international acceptance of Cambodian specified rubber and unexploited direct market access to the international markets.”
Source: The Southeast Asia Weekly, Nov 27-Dec 3, 2011, Vol. 5, Issue 48, Page 1