KUALA NERANG, March 13 — About 400,000 hectares or 40 per cent of the total rubber plantations operated by smallholders nationwide have been found to be inactive or not consistently producing  rubber, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin.

She said should the entire 150,000 smallholders of rubber plantation be managed efficiently and consistently, RM30 billion worth of rubber production could be generated.

“Right now we estimate there are 40 per cent whose results are inconsistent, sometimes active, sometimes inactive... as such we want to coordinate these inconsistent rubber areas to ensure their production continues to be consistent to increase yields.

“Among the reasons why these rubber plantations are inactive or production is inconsistent is because no one is tapping, smallholding owners are old and no one wants to manage the plantation,” she told reporters after officiating at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Crepe Rubber Processing Centre and Rubber Industrial Transformation Project (TARGET) here today.

According to her, the ministry and related agencies are looking for ways to resolve the issue, among others by creating cooperatives in the rubber plantation areas identified to bring smallholders under one entity.

She said that through this method, the cooperatives created can act to manage inactive or inconsistent rubber plantations so that rubber production can be optimised.

“So this cooperative can explore and identify rubber plantations in the area and discuss with landowners so that the cooperative can take over the management of these inactive plantations,” she said.

If all smallholders’ rubber production could be optimised, the country’s natural rubber and rubber products export revenue could be more than the RM71 billion recorded last year, she said.

On the construction of the Crepe Rubber Processing Centre in Lubuk Merbau here, she said it was aimed at helping smallholders explore new opportunities in the rubber production chain and facilitate the collection and distribution of rubber products.

She said the centre would process cuplump (scrap rubber) into crepe rubber that could be sold at a higher price as well as help smallholders increase their income by between RM2,000 and RM2,500 a month compared to RM1,500 to RM1,800 by selling cuplump. — Bernama