The rubber industry is one of the priority agro-based industries in the Philippines being a priority crop under the Department of Agriculture (DA). In 1997, DA launched the Rubber Development Program (RDP) as a component of Gintong Ani-High Value Commercial Crops Program (GA-HVCC) for the purpose of expanding rubber to 500,000 ha. in 10 years.
The DOST launched the Natural Rubber R & D Agenda during the 1st Philippine Rubber Industry Market Encounter (PRIME) event and was borne out of a series of consultations, mainly with Philippine Rubber Industries Association (PRIA) and rubber processors and farmers in Mindanao. The R & D agenda covered both the upstream through the Industry Strategic Plan (ISP) of the PCAARRD and downstream through the S & T Intervention Program of PCIEERD. Among the issues raised by the industry are poor qualities of natural rubber (NR) and lack of competitive products produced by the country. Other issues identified are lack of researches on product formulation and innovative rubber products. Other problem of farmers is the lack of high value utilization of senescent rubber tree. Generally, rubber wood from senescent tree is used only as fuel.
Natural rubber still holds a significant market share of 30% to 40% over synthetic rubber despite advances in synthetic rubber compounds. NR is used in over 50,000 consumer products and continues to hold the greatest share in tire production. The major advantage of NR over synthetic is its dynamic properties which cannot be substituted in engineering applications. The Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC) where the Philippines is an active member contributed 93% of the total world production. The ANRPC is composed of 11 countries namely Thailand, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, China, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and Singapore. Except for China, India, Sri Lanka, and Papua New Guinea, most of the ANRPC members are mostly ASEAN members. The top three producers are Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. According to ANRPC, the NR output of 10.2 million MT in 2010 is projected to increase to 15.4 million MT in 2020. The high rubber demand by different sectors will lead to increasing deficits as disclosed by All India Rubber Industries Association (AIRA). Deficits shall increase for 189,000 MT in 2010 to 840,000 MT in 2020 (Rubber Industry Study 2012). Though the Philippines only contributed 1.1% to the total NR production of ANRPC members, the growing deficit between supply and demand presents are opportunity for the Philippines to expand its production and the industry based on natural rubber as well.
To utilize the natural rubber exudates and senescent rubber trees into high value products in increasing the competitiveness of the local rubber industry.
- To enhance the capability of natural rubber industry in processing thru industry partnership, benchmarking and training.
- To develop high value products from natural rubber.
- To utilize senescent rubber tree for furniture making.
- To recommend policy on the use of best latex coagulant.