Industry needs overhaul

Farming

The Chairperson of the PNG Rubber Board has called on rubber farmers to work more closely with the Board and Department of Agriculture and Livestock.
Josephine Kenni said farmers needed to change their attitude and work together with relevant authorities to address the issues and constraints affecting the industry.
“Let’s be partners and work together.
My office is always open for you all. Work together with the field officers but change our work attitude so we can reach our goals.”
Kenni was responding to outbursts recently by farmers at Upulima rubber project in Central concerning rubber prices and partnerships in exporting rubber products, as well as the involvement of cocoa in rubber areas.
She said the Board and DAL were aware of the problems in the industry and were working with the rubber industry to come up with solutions to boost rubber production.
“Firstly, rubber cup lump, as being the raw substance of rubber latex, has no world market price.
“PNG rubber cup lumps is exported to Malaysia only where multi-national companies buy and resell our cup lump to semi-producing factories again.
“Thus we cannot control the cup lump price in the country.
“The cup lump price can be controlled if we put a ban on export of cup lump in Central, and all of you in Central sell your entire raw cup lump to Doa Factory, then we can set a Farm Gate Price with the Factory, since they are producing Block Rubber or TSR 10 & 20.
“However, we are still negotiating the ban,” Kenni said.
“We must make sure your daily needs are catered for, so in the near future when there will be cum lump ban in the province, logistics and in frastructure are sorted out.” Kenni said the board was also looking at different ways semi-processing rubber could add value to the cup lump.
She said the board was looking at other options in the country where raw rubber could be used domestically so prices of cup lump can be increased, such as the “Rubberized
Roads” concept, building an R&D for Rubber, another semi-processing factory and a downstream processing plant.
“All these add to funding availability and technology transfer to the department responsible for the Rubberized Roads.
“We are talking to Works Department at the moment. We need to improve the quantity and quality.
“How can I increase prices when the farmers at Upulima are tapping their rubber in the bush and throwing their cup lump on the ground where it is collecting mud, sticks and stones?” she said.
Kenni said the second issue facing the rubber industry was partnering with other businesses in dealing with rubber exports.
She said exporters run their own businesses in any export field and so it must be done right for the rubber industry.
“For instance, we are regulating the Laws and the Act for the Rubber Industry. We are currently using the 1953 Act which needs amending.
“We are amending the act, and we are also issuing licenses to exporters who are buying and selling raw rubber.
“Until and unless the act is amended, the association will be given a platform to participate fully.
“On the partnership, I cannot comment as exporters are sole business entities and have laws and rules that gives them the right to do their business. It is up to them to decide if they want to partner with farmers,” Kenni said.
“My board has never rejected an exporter who wants to enter the rubber business.
“But it is important that we work with partners whose vision is to develop and improve the industry.
“I want people who want to improve the livelihood of farmers, who have a vision and will be here for a long time, regardless of the fall in pricing or the ruggedness and the isolation of the nation.
“We want someone who can remain even when the infrastructure is falling apart.
“So my good farmers, let’s not wait on the rain but build the green pasture for this industry ourselves.
“Lastly, the Cape Rodney Rubber Project Area covering Upulima, Cocoalands, Manabo and Ianu, Gavien, Murua, are under CAO of cultivating rubber commodity.
“Any plans to cut down rubber trees and plant cocoa or any other cash crops will be illegal and anybody or whoever the block owners involved in such illegal activities will be charged and disciplined.” Kenni said the industry has an inter-cropping plan and had allowed the Cocoa Industry to set up a nursery at Upulima to see how best inter-cropping rubber with cocoa would work.
This would be in new planting areas and not cutting down of the rubber trees, as believed.
PNG Rubber Industry has registered with the Redd Plus division of the Office of Climate Change and all the rubber farmers and the rubber trees are accounted and planned for.
“Cutting of rubber trees without a proper notification will not be allowed,” Kenni warned.

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