Governor: North Cotabato No. 1 in rubber production in PH

KIDAPAWAN CITY, North Cotabato – North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou “Lala” Taliño-Mendoza disclosed that the province is No. 1 in rubber production in the country during her State-of-the-Province Address (SOPA) at the Provincial Gymnasium in Barangay Amas here on March 14,Tuesday.

NORTH Cotabato Gov. Emmylou ‘Lala’ J. Talino-Mendoza delivers her State-of-the-Province Address (SOPA) on March 14, Tuesday,  at the Provincial Capitol in Barangay Amas in Kidapawan City. (Photo via Ivy Tejano)

The governor said North Cotabato has more than 62,000 hectares planted to rubber, with 55,000 hectares of tappable trees producing an average of 13,750 metric tons from 26,000 rubber growers.

Mendoza said that as a priority high-value crop, rubber has a high potential for substantial income among rubber planters and tappers.

She added that rubber production was considered a flagship program of the local governments in North Cotabato.

“We have made efforts in the rubber industry. Just like any other crops with abundant supply, our rubber farmers face marketing challenges, which often put them at a disadvantage. Recently, we have been firm and dedicated to monitoring the leaf fall disease in rubber trees,” Mendoza said.

The province issued a temporary ban on the entry of rubber tree seedlings from Basilan province and the Zamboanga Peninsula region to stop the spread of Pestalotiopsis. This deadly fungus leads to leaf fall, significantly decreases sap production, and ultimately kills the
infected rubber tree.

Mendoza has issued Executive Order No. 11, Series of 2023, directing the Provincial Agriculturist Office to increase monitoring and surveillance against the disease.

The ban, which took effect on Feb. 3, covers Basilan and Zamboanga Peninsula provinces Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del
Sur, and Zamboanga Sibugay, and the cities of Isabela, Dapitan, Dipolog, Pagadian, and Zamboanga.

Mendoza said the executive order protects the province’s more than P1-billion rubber industry from the leaf fall disease. She also urged farmers and producers to avoid sourcing rubber tree seedlings and stem cuttings from restricted areas.

“We even sent a team and a scientist to benchmark in Malaysia, to learn from our counterpart to address this leaf fall disease affecting our high value crops,” Mendoza said, adding that they also reactivated the Cotabato Rubber Trading and Auction Center or Bagsakan ng Rubber Cup Lump.

Mendoza said the Rubber Trading and Auction Center serves to leverage rubber prices and allow their farmers to avail of the premium costs for cup lumps. The 35 centers offered a higher price of P3 to P5 per kilo through a bidding system compared to the prevailing market price.

In 2022, the rubber bagsakan average purchase was 640,000 kilograms, an average higher price of P24 per kilogram compared with
the traders’ P19 per kilogram, and the estimated average monthly transaction was P15,680,000 per bagsakan.

An estimated 3,450 rubber farmers were served monthly by the bagsakan, and since the independent traders’ buying prices were
influenced by the winning bid price in the bagsakan, it benefitted all 26,000 rubber growers.

Mendoza thanked Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) regional director Loreto Cabaya, a former provincial
board member, for supporting the rubber program.