NEW DA PROJECT GIVES RUBBER FARMERS HOPE
RUBBER PROJECT. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol (left) poses with a Philippine made motorcycle tire with his brother, North Cotabato board member Socrates Piñol (right), a rubber farmer. (Photo courtesy of Secretary Piñol’s office)
KIDAPAWAN CITY -- Rubber farmers who have been suffering from the low buying price of rubber cup lumps in North Cotabato and in the Soccsksargen region will soon enjoy higher buying price with the new project of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Socrates Piñol, North Cotabato provincial board member, who concurrently represents the Philippine Rubber Farmers' Association (PRFA), said in a radio interview Thursday that the new DA project will bring out rubber tappers and farmers from the bondage of manipulators in the province.
Earlier, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said in a statement that by February next year, PRFA will start processing raw rubber into motorcycle and small tractor tires under the proposed brand name "Pilipinas Agila Tires.”
Socrates Piñol said the rubber farmers, not only those from North Cotabato but from across the country, will market the tires made of their farm produce to motorcycle owners and hand-held farm tractor manufacturers and farmers. “There is the sense of ownership,” he said.
“This will virtually free the rubber farmers from the control of traders who base their buying prices for raw rubber called ‘cup lumps’ on world market prices, which are low now,” Secretary Piñol said in the same statement.
A Bulacan-based tire manufacturing company agreed to a “tooling arrangement” where it will process farmers’ semi-processed rubber, called “SPR 20,” into motorcycle and hand-held tractor tires.
Socrates Piñol was authorized by PRFA president Armando Pedregoza to represent him in a meeting with William Lim of Leo Tire Manufacturing Co. (LTMC) that led to an agreement.
The terms and conditions of the agreement includes: first, that the PRFA, which will soon be transformed into a farmers' cooperative, will buy the raw rubber produce of its members and process this into “SPR 20.”
Second, that the “SPR 20” produce of the PRFA will be sold to LTMC, which will then process it into two fast-moving rubber products -- 3.00 x 17 motorcycle tires and hand-held tractor tires;
Third, that LTMC will release these products to the PRFA at factory prices; and
Fourth, that the PRFA, in turn, will sell the tires to motorcycle owners and fabricators of hand-held tractors.
Secretary Piñol said DA will provide technical and financial support to the PRFA to implement the project. He said Lim recommended that the PRFA first focus on the two products -- motorcycle tires and hand-held tractor tires -- because these are the fast-moving products in his company's experience.
The LTMC produces popular tire brands now in the market, such as Manhattan, Bulldog, and Leo tires. Government statistics show that there are 3.58 million registered motorcycles in the country.
Secretary Piñol said processing farmers' raw rubber into high-value products is the solution identified by the DA to break the control of traders and middlemen on the pricing of rubber cup lumps.
From a high of PHP100 per kg. about 10 years ago, prices of raw rubber dropped to PHP25 per kg. at present, forcing rubber farmers to cut the trees or shift to other crops. (PNA)