Rubber farmers in Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay recently thanked the DOST-Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI) for creating new jobs and extra source of income for them.

Thru the project "Processing and Utilization of Senile and Unproductive Rubberwood (Hevea brasiliensis) Trees for the Production of High Value Furniture, Mouldings and Joineries”, the farmers can now convert senile rubberwood trees into high-value products such as quality home and school furniture.

TARBEMCO’s Chair Esperidion M.Salburo during the closing ceremony of the DOST-FPRDI training on furniture making.

"We are very grateful to DOST-FPRDI because of what we have now,” said Mr. Esperidion M. Salburo, Chairman of the Tambanan Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multi-Purpose Cooperative (TARBEMCO). “Without their help, the old rubberwood trees in our community will only be used for fruit crates, pallets, and firewood. Now, we can also use them to make premium products like furniture, doors, door jambs and other builders’ woodworks that will bring in much needed income for us."

Rubberwood can be turned into exquisite furniture such as this center table, which won 3rd place during the 2019 Rubberwood Furniture Design Contest.

In the last two years, DOST-FPRDI has conducted a series of training for TARBEMCO members to teach them how they could maximize the use of old, unproductive rubberwood trees. Of TARBEMCO’s 298 members, 78 attended the DOST-FPRDI’s trainings on harvesting and sawmilling, rubberwood preservation and treatment, kiln drying, woodworking machine operation and maintenance, furniture making and basic finishing. They also received a complete line of processing facilities necessary for every stage of furniture production - from sawmilling to finishing.

"We are now inspired to plant more rubber trees because we have realized their value,” said Chairman Salburo.

The TARBEMCO plantation currently has 210 hectares of senile rubberwood trees which can yield as much as 31,500 cubic meters of valuable lumber. Aside from furniture, this abundant raw material may also be used to makejoineries and mouldings.” ### (Juliemar V. Purificacion & Rizalina K. Araral, 20 August 2020)