BALING: The Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry will study a proposal to increase the floor price of scrap rubber to RM3.50 a kilogramme (kg) to increase the income of smallholders in the country.

Its minister, Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin(pix), said the ministry would also discuss the matter with the Malaysian Rubber Board and the Rural Development Ministry.

“The Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda) chairman had voiced the proposal to me and we need to sit down and discuss the matter,” she told at a press conference after a dialogue with 150 smallholders here today.

Last Friday, the media reported that the government had been urged to consider raising the floor price of scrap rubber to RM3.50 per kg beginning January next year to help increase the income of rubber tappers to above the poverty level.

Risda chairman Datuk Mohd Salim Mohd Sharif was quoted as saying that the present floor price of scrap rubber, which is RM2,50 per kg, was far lower than the oil palm trees that could fetch up to RM1,100 per tonne.

In another development, Zuraida said the Rubber Industry Transformation Project (TARGET) -- a development project for Crip Rubber Processing Centre clusters nationwide which will be introduced to the upstream rubber industry.

This project, as a whole, will be able to transform the smallholding sector by realising an integrated value chain of commercial-scale rubber supply through a group processing approach and profit-sharing at the level of smallholders, cooperatives and entrepreneurs, she said.-Bernama