Rubber farming forum to kick off Cotabato ‘Kalivungan Festival’ PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 17 August 2013 11:39

The North Cotabato provincial government will hold on August 19 a “rubber forum” to discuss with stakeholders the prospects of the now booming rubber tree farming industry and solutions to marketing constraints besetting local producers.

North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, who is among several officials who are to jointly preside over the forum, said the event will precede their 10-day “Kalivungan Festival,” which is to start on August 20.

Organizers are expecting rubber tree farmers to participate in the Kalivungan Festival, which will highlight the socio-economic and eco-tourism potentials of North Cotabato.

Mendoza said among the issues to be tackled in the forum is the mounting perception by local farmers that there are “cartels” that manipulate the prices of processed rubber, which supposedly has very high market demand abroad.

Latest estimates pegged to no fewer than 500,000 the number of farmers in North Cotabato, whose territory covers 17 towns and Kidapawan City, who already shifted to rubber tree production as a more stable means of livelihood.

“There is a big demand for processed rubber in the international market. We want our farmers, through proper trading protocols and with the help of line agencies of the government, to have access to buyers that can pay them appropriately for their products,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza said they also see large-scale production in the province as the easiest way to restore the area’s ‘forest cover,’ from where springs and creeks can spring from as potential sources of water.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has long approved of massive planting or rubber trees (Hevea Brasiliensis) as a good way to reforest barren lands since farmers are sure to protect them for as long as the trees produce raw, marketable white sap called latex, in a lifespan of 25 to 30 years.

The August 19 rubber forum will be held at the auditorium of the University of Southern Mindanao in Kabacan town, at the backdrop of tight security.

Units of the Army’s 602nd Brigade, the North Cotabato provincial police, and the 10th Infantry Division are now tightly securing the surroundings of Kidapawan City and neighboring towns to ensure the safety of participants to the rubber forum and the forthcoming Kalivungan Festival.

The festival will be held at the sprawling provincial capitol compound in Barangay Amas in Kidapawan City.

North Cotabato’s cross-section “tri-people,” or Moro, Christian and Indigenous non-Muslim communities, have been invited to join the Kalivungan event, according to Mendoza.

The director of the Department of Tourism in Region 12, Nelly Dillera, said their office will also participate in the 10-day festivity.

Dillera said the activity will bring together different people, including representatives of the agriculture, fisheries, and political sectors from across the province.

Dillera said the event will also give outsiders a chance to see the agriculture and eco-tourism potentials of North Cotabato.

Mendoza said she is optimistic the Kalivungan Festival will usher in prospective investors than can pour in capital inputs for the local rubber industry.

“There are overwhelming potentials, so promising prospects for rubber farming in the province,” Mendoza said.