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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Uggah proposes master plan for rubber industry

KUCHING: There is a need to draw up a master plan for the rubber industry in Sarawak in order to transform the industry, suggested Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.

He said this is because rubber has been and will continue to play an important role in the development of the state’s rural economy while contributing to its export earning, employment opportunity and generating income for rubber smallholders mainly in the rural areas.

“Currently, there are 175,000 hectares of rubber smallholdings scattered all over Sarawak. The size of the farm holdings of these smallholders ranges from one hectare to 10 hectares. Seventy per cent of rubber products produced by the smallholders are in the form of cup lump while 30 per cent are dry or smoked sheets.

“There are four Standard Malaysia Rubber (SMR) factories in Sarawak, three in Kuching and one in Betong. However, the state does not have high downstream value-added products. The SMR rubber is only for export in the raw form. In terms of yield, we only reach a production of 800 kg per hectare as compared to 1,200 kg per hectare at national level,” Uggah said in his ministerial winding-up speech at the State Legislative Assembly yesterday.

As such, the rubber industry in the state is merely to supply raw rubber, which should no longer be the case if we have the downstream industry, he reasoned.

Learning from the development of the rubber industry in West Malaysia, he said the industry has vast potentials when it is developed in a more integrated manner.

“The competitiveness of the rubber industry should be examined as an integrated entity spanning the entire industry from rubber cultivation to downstream value-added industries.

“Whilst rubber cultivation per se does not generate attractive returns to investment, rubber product manufacturing and rubber wood industries offer lucrative returns,” he said.

Meanwhile, Uggah also informed the august house that the government was in the process of establishing the State Department of Veterinary Services as a dedicated agency to develop the livestock industry.

The establishment of the department will put the government in a better position to enforce The Veterinary Public Health Ordinance, 1999 efficiently and effectively, he said.

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