Last update: 06/11/2019
BANGKOK, Nov 6 – Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia, the world's top producers of natural rubber (NR), have raised concern on the widespread of Pestalotiopsis disease (fungal disease) which affects rubber plantations in the countries.
In a statement, the International Tripartite Rubber Council (ITRC) which represents the three countries, said as at October 1 this year, 382,000 hectares (ha) of plantation in Indonesia have been affected, while 2,135ha were affected in Peninsular Malaysia, with leaf defoliation of between 50 and 90 per cent for the period from November 2017 to September this year.
“In Thailand, it is estimated at least 50,000ha of plantations in southern Thailand along Malaysia’s border may be affected, since it was reported a few months ago. About 80 per cent of the areas have been severely damaged by this disease.
“Local farmers in the area said production reduced by 40 to 60 per cent. This will greatly affect rubber production as the months of October, November, and December are usually the peak harvest period months of the year,” it said.
The group said it was reported that this disease had spread to Trang province in southern Thailand, one of the most concentrated rubber plantation areas.
“One of the major causes of this spread is unhealthy rubber trees due to very low rubber prices in the past five to six years. With less income received, this induced rubber farmers to abandon and ignore the recommended fertilising system,” it said.
Amid the spreading of the fungal disease, ITRC said there was a high possibility that the estimated NR production for its member countries reduced as much as 800,000 tonnes.
It said the gross NR export for its member countries had reduced 10.60 per cent to 492,000 tonnes in the first half of this year, compared to the same period last year.
However, the gross NR export for other producing countries such as Vietnam, Ivory Coast, and Cambodia increased around 106,000 tonnes or 11.56 per cent, it said.
Meanwhile, the Rubber Authority of Thailand is currently implementing various efforts to contain the spread with the assistance of various organisations domestically and the International Rubber Research Development Board.
In Malaysia, the Malaysian Rubber Board has carried out disease advisories, training and spraying demonstrations on how to identify and control the disease by fungicide application.
“For the benefits of all rubber smallholders and other stakeholders in the NR industry, the ITRC member countries will collectively monitor and continue to implement related measures to ensure that NR price moves to remunerative level including efforts to address rubber disease and sustainability of NR,” ITRC said.
Meanwhile, the statement said ITRC member countries had completed the implementation of the 6th Agreed Export Tonnage Scheme (AETS) starting from April 1 this year with full compliance as one entity and individual countries.
After the period of the 6th AETS implementation, the total actual export reduction of the three countries reached 441,648 tonnes which is larger than the targeted cutback of 240,000 tonnes.
“With the completion of the AETS implementation, the three countries announced that there is no ‘hanging’ stock to be released to the market pursuant to the implementation,” it said.