Picture of Joeven C. Calasagsag
Rubber research institute up soon
by Joeven C. Calasagsag - Wednesday, 9 November 2011, 09:56 AM
mb.com.ph; November 4, 2011, 3:34pm

MANILA, Philippines -- The government is establishing the Philippine Rubber Research Institute (PRRI) in a 1,000-hectare area in Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay. The site will be donated by local government unit in support of an industry that has the potential of contributing vastly to the country’s economy, according to Zamboanga Sibugay Gov. Rommel A. Jalosjos.

Strategically located near the Mindanao State University (MSU) campus in Naga, PRRI will help boost rubber's potential in light of industrial manufacturers' preference for nature-friendly materials as a climate change-mitigating effort.

PRRI will institutionalize and sustain researches funded by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR).

These include 10 programs spread across the rubber-growing provinces of Zamboanga, Cotabato, and Basi-lan, according to Dr. Nicomedes P. Eleazar, BAR director.

“PRRI should become at par with the rubber institutes in Malaysia, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and China that have been developing new superior rubber varieties,” Eleazar said.

These research centers have produced rubber clones that are high-yielding, disease-resistant, and with reduced gestation period that allows latex extraction in 4.5 years, much shorter than the five to 10 years range.

BAR is supporting the issuance of the implementing rules and regulation for PRRI which will precede budget allocation, according to BAR Coordinator Rudy L. Galang.

“With the draft IRR to be submitted for approval by DA Secretary Proceso Alcala, the national government will allocate a budget of P100 Million for PRRI for 2012, its first year of implementation. This is equivalent to one percent of the gross value added of rubber,” said Galang.

PRRI will enhance rubber research and development programs including establishment of a nursery or a garden for budwood to produce grafted planting materials.

To enhance farmers' management practices, they will be trained on fertilization, weed, insect, and disease control, control of mollusks and vertebrates, harvesting, and packing of budwoods and budsticks.

The facilities that will be available in the PRRI are tissue culture laboratory, rubber testing laboratory, product testing laboratory, seedling nurseries, germplasm collection, semi-processing plants, waste water collection and testing facilities. DA will share with PRRI the use of some of these facilities found in DA's provincial office in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.

“What is important here is a good amount of land where we will test for superior varieties of rubber and grow massive amount of seedlings,” said Galang.

The country's average dry rubber yield at present is around 1.5 metric tons (MT) per hectare which is lower than the maximum potential of RRIM 600 of two MT per hectare per year.

The 1,000-hectare area will primarily be an experimental station for breeding and selection of high yielding cultivars.

“New genetic materials will be collected from rubber producing countries to enable plant breeders to develop new clones that will perform well even in non-traditional areas,” said Eleazar.

Source: Rubber research institute up soon
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