KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 – Malaysia needs to find ways to switch from scrap rubber (cup lump) to improve latex production, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Ahmad Zahid, who is also Rural and Regional Development Minister, said this is because Malaysia still imported about 80 per cent of latex at a cost of around RM3 billion.
“Malaysia is the world’s largest rubber producer and a glove-producing country, with latex as the primary material. But why do we have to import latex?
“Even though it involves a lot of work and there is a lack of manpower as most rubber tappers are aged around 60 to 70, we need to find ways to produce (more) latex because, in Malaysia, there are only seven depots for latex production.”
On ways to facilitate latex production, Ahmad Zahid said they include strengthening existing cooperatives and working with non-governmental organisations related to rubber plantation settlers.
He said this in response to the increased allocation for the Rural and Regional Development Ministry by RM500 million compared to 2022 and how it could benefit target groups, especially rubber tappers.
In Malaysia, cup lumps are more popular among rubber tappers than latex, which involves a more complex production process.
To produce cup lumps, rubber tappers only need to leave the sap to harden in cups before collecting the yield after three days. As for latex, they had to wait for the sap to stop dripping between four and five hours before collection.