- By Min Maung Maung
The motto “ Let us grow rubber trees for the future of a family” was spread out in our country, especially Mon and Karen States and
Taninthaye and Bago Regions. At present days, rubber plantations are seen on verdant hills along the Yangon-Nay Pyi Taw Highway. Rubber plantations raised the spirit of encouragement for the so-called “growers’ golden age” and there was a saying of “ Grow rubber trees to get rich”.
A couple of decades ago, the owners of rubber plantations earned public recognition and a lot of money by creating a lot of job opportunities. Local populace enjoyed working in the rubber plantations instead of working in other countries illegally. Trading of rubber in local markets increased in number day by day. Depending on their financial availability, some locals formed a self-help group for planting rubber trees and other rich people ploughed hundreds of acres for rubber plantations.
By nurturing rubber plantations for long-term industrial raw materials, the local growers dreamed of a golden age. But nowadays, the owners of rubber plantations in Mon and Karen States and Tanintharye are heard of grumbling about for their missed opportunities. As the prices of local rubber are dwindling, the workers are leaving the plantations without collecting rubber latex; they went to neighboring
Thailand to find a job somewhere else in order to support their families financially. So it is hard to find manual workers for collecting latex; trees are cut down to be sent to a factory as a timber and some trees are cut down to use as firewood.
When root causes and consequences are studied, it is found that the standards of rubber are below export quality, short of technology and at the same time loans are not available for rubber growers. Scarcity of workers, a reduction in demands and lower prices for its inferior quality are challenges for rubber industry.
There are 500 ,000 acres of rubber plantations in Mon State; the current price of RSSI rubber is between K. 920 and 950 for one pound.
The price of rubber was K.840 per pound in July and prices rose in August, but growers sold it to small brokerage houses instead of sending to the townships. A grower from Barum village, Mudon Township said that as the production was not up to the standard, the proceeds from selling rubber were less than from other sources. He continued to say it was difficult for long-term production. At the present time, collection and fumigation of rubber and process of flat rubber by individuals, leading to different quality. It is heard that either a government, private businessmen or some companies should be allowed to manage a lack of technology and uniformity in standardized rubber.
The lack of support and technology for rubber growers in Mon State fell into decline in the market. To escape the worst situation, arrangements are being made for the construction of factories in 10 townships in Mon State with the help of the State government. Now there is a glimmer of hope for rubber growers.
Exports of rubber in the Financial Year of 2014 -2015 were over 70 000 tonnes; over 80 000 tonnes in the FY of 2015-2016; over 140 000 tons during 2016-2017 and about 154,000 tons in the FY of 2017-2018, according to the statistics of the Ministry of Commerce. The Myanmar Rubber Planters and Producers Association (MRPPA) said we are in competition with other rubber-exporting countries in terms of quality, logistic and technology so as to raise the level of export quality. At the present time, priority should be given to the quality of rubber rather than the yield per acre In Mon State.
“ Myanma Rubber Forum” was held in Nay Pyi Taw on March 21, 2018 with the aims of sustainable development of Myanmar rubber and for improvement of growers’ livelihood. It is hoped that promoting the exports of rubber will not only help raise the subsistence level of rubber growers but also would create a lot of job opportunities. To realize the hopes of rubber growers, all supports are required from the government and private companies concerned.
This Article was appeared in No. 15, Vloume (18) of the “Do Kyay-Ywar” Journel on 15 September 2018.
Translated by Arakan Sein