• Friday, June 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

Establish intervention funds for natural rubber – farmers tell FG

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Stakeholders in the rubber production subsector in the country have called on the federal government to set aside intervention funds for the development of rubber plantations, processing and manufacturing.

The stakeholders who made the call in Calabar, Cross River state recently at a meeting to chart the way forward for the production of the crop says rubber production is a goldmine that can be an export earner for the country.

Peter Igbinosun, the newly elected national president of National Rubber Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NARPPMAN) said the the intervention fund should attract a single digit interest rate of 3 and 5percent with a monatorium period of four years considering the gestation period of the crop.

Igbinosun recommended that the repayment period should spread over 10 to 15 years.

He called for the selection of a development bank to handle the processing and disbursement of the intervention fund.

As a way of easing the challenges faced by natural rubber farmers and processors, he advocated the establishment of an agency for bulk purchase of machinery/equipment, saying it will facilitate the acquisition of tractors, implements, land development machineries and equipment.

He added that the rural development policies of government at all levels should be integrated to farm plantations in order to create the necessary infrastructures such as roads, bridges, electricity and water.

Igbinosun enumerated that the county will benefit greatly if the rubber subsector which has been long neglected, is well positioned although it is a capital and labour intensive industry.

“Rubber, grown in 24 states of Nigeria, including Kaduna, Taraba, Kwara and Adamawa among others has the capacity to create wealth; enhance non-oil sector foreign exchange earnings and can also greatly reduce crime and youth militancy,” he said.

“There are array of other benefits from natural rubber. Planting rubber trees generate carbon pits and fit with the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto protocol. A 30 years old rubber plantation mobilizes 200 tons of C/Ha,” he further said.

“Rubber is in high demand all over the world, plays a major role as a foreign exchange earner and contributor to the growth of our national economy. Natural rubber is a strategic material as it cannot be replaced in many important applications,” he added.

According to him, there are over 50 by-products of rubber cutting across all major sectors of the economy, disclosing, too that it used for manufacturing of consume, hand-gloves, PPE uses in fighting COVID19.

He listed some of these to include natural rubber latex products such as adhesives, mattresses, pillows, Seat cushions, car seats, baby feeding bottle teats, condoms, surgical, domestic and industrial gloves among others.

To reduce unemployment, he said the subsector can employ 640,000 people directly and 160,000 indirectly as service providers, adding that they have 200,000 hectares of rubber plantation in Nigeria both small holders and industrial plantations.

Also speaking, Usen Umoh, general manager of Royal International Farms and Estates limited, said rubber farmers face increasing challenges and would need medium and long term facilities.

Umoh said high cost of credit to finance private rubber plantation development is the bane.