Rubber’s Dip May Rebound With Research

The price of Cambodian rubber increased in November compared to previous months, Mong Reththy, Cambodia’s largest commodities dealer, said Friday.

“The average price of Cam­bodian rubber this month is $1,300 per ton compared to a few months ago when it was sold for $1,200 per ton” said Mong Reth­thy, chairman of Mong Reththy Group.

“But the price is still lower than the price of Malaysian, Indo­nesian and Thai rubber, which this month sold for $1,440 per ton,” he said.

Mong Reththy predicted that the price of rubber could rise to $1,500 per ton in the international market in the coming months.

Cambodia exports almost 100 percent of its rubber product. Mong Reththy said his company has exported 8,000 tons of rubber so far this year.

But Cambodia is still not competing on the same level as other Southeast Asian countries that are members of the International Rubber Association, while Cam­bodia is not, he added.

“They have huge capital re­sources, so they can store rubber until the demand of the market is high,” Mong Reththy said. “And the standard of quality of our pro­duct is a bit lower than theirs.”

The main market for Cam­bodian rubber is China, but Cam­bodia cannot ship rubber there directly because of the small size of its shipments.

Cargoes of rubber must be shipped from plantations to Si­hanoukville and then to Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City or Singapore, where they are transported to China.

China saves $22 per ton to transport rubber through Ho Chi Minh City, Mong Reththy said.

In the last few years, Cambodia has exported 40,000 tons of rubber at a value of $32 million, Ly Phalla, director general of the rubber department at the Min­istry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, told reporters in Aug­ust. But in the first seven months of 2003, Cambodia has exported only 12,000 tons of rubber, he said.

Yin Song, director of the Rubber Research Institute for Cambodia, said Friday that Cam­bodia needs to research a new rubber seed that can produce a higher yield than the current seed.

To increase the yield of rubber resin, the RRIC began a research project, supported by the World Bank and the Rural Development Bank. The project tests seeds that will grow into trees yielding a greater amount of rubber resin.

“The maximum length of time rubber trees can produce good resin is 25 years,” Yin Song said. “Today, Cambodia’s rubber trees are more than 40 years old. Old trees must be cut down and new trees must be planted to replace them.”

He said that the institute will finish research for the project in 2005 and rubber resin laborers, and farmers should be able to purchase and plant the seeds in 2006.

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