Risda aims to raise smallholders’ household income to RM4,500

Last year, 63% of rubber plantation were abandoned as tappers struggled to make decent returns during the pandemic

by SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

RUBBER Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda) is aiming to raise smallholders’ monthly household income to RM4,500 through the newly launched Risda Strategic Planning Model (MPSR) 2021-2025.

The strategic plan is a continuation of Risda’s previous five-year plan which ended last year and was formulated in line with the 12th Malaysia Plan.

Rural Development Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad (picture) said among the initiatives formulated through the strategic plan is to encourage young generations to be involved in domestic agricultural production.

“We hope the new initiatives introduced under Risda’s 2021-2025 strategic plan will help encourage younger generations, especially those from families who own rubber plantations, to continue working on their families’ lands.

“We want to promote Malaysia’s rubber cultivation and increase the local production given the high demand for rubber medical products by the healthcare industry,” he said in a press conference yesterday.

The government has also increased the allocation for the rubber replanting programme to RM13,710 per ha for plantations in Peninsular Malaysia, RM14,805 per ha for Sarawak and RM14,955 per ha for Sabah.

Risda also received an additional allocation of RM15.7 million to manage the plant’s disease — commonly known as pestalotiopsis — which has been attacking rubber trees, costing 8,403 rubber tappers with a total hectarage of 15,282.

According to Risda, MPSR 2021-2025 is targeting seven key areas — areas of replanted rubber plantation, increased productivity, farm commodity prices, human capital development, increased number of entrepreneur smallholders, higher household income and profit growth of Risda-owned companies.

Abdul Latiff said this year, the ministry has set aside RM410.8 million for Risda to implement a development programme involving RM322.1 million for the smallholder rubber plantation area programme; RM58.7 million for productivity enhancement and smallholder development programmes; and RM30 million for a new revenue development programme.

The Malaysian Reserve previously reported that more idle rubber lands in the country have been recorded due to declining number of rubber tappers and the unattractive prices of natural rubber.

According to last year’s industrial data, 63% or 682,914ha of rubber plantation in the country have been identified as abandoned as tappers struggled to make decent returns during the pandemic.

The number of idle lands has been disturbingly rising in the last decade, doubling from 362,900ha in 2011, or 35.3%, of the total planted area.

According to the Monthly Rubber Statistics Malaysia, in January 2021, there were only 5,276 rubber tappers recorded working during the month.

To compare, the number fell from December 2020 where a total of 5,455 people were recorded tapping.