Time to increase scrap rubber price - Jeffrey
KENINGAU - The government is considering to increase the floor price of scrap rubber from RM2.50 to RM3.50 per kilogramme to improve the smallholders' income.
Sabah Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Datuk Seri Jeffrey Kitingan said the floor price has been set seven years ago and to maintain the price during these times was unfair to smallholders.
"Times have changed and there is a reason to raise the floor prices now.
"We need to ensure that smallholders can make a living particularly when prices of foods have increased drastically," he said.
He said this after attending a dialogue between the Sabah Rubber Industry Board (Ligs) and the Association of Rubber Smallholders Keningau members, here, on Monday.
He said besides raising the floor price of scrap prices, Ligs also suggested other methods to boost the income of smallholders.
"Among them are to grow other crops such as pineapples, rearing livestock such as chicken and explore opportunities in the honey bees industry.
"Apart from that, participants are also applying for the government to raise the subsidies to smallholders in need," he said.
Kitingan also said the ministry would overcome the issue with the state and federal government to make a more comprehensive decision.
"I want to convince smallholders that the ministry is aware and sympathises with their situation.
"I am satisfied with the dialogue because without it we would have empty talks without the chances to discuss the issues and obstacles faced," he said.
He said the price of rubber was set by the market and not by the ministry or Ligs while the changes of prices were set by the demand of the commodity in the global market.
"The prices of supplies such as pesticides and fertilisers were under the control of the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP).
"It is important that these factors are understood so there will be no one to blame or think the ministry has unlimited power to raise or lower prices.
"If it was up to us, we would control the pricing accordingly so the people would be able to obtain a better income.
"The reality is that all prices is driven by the market, I hope we could do more.
"However, we can only aid through subsidies, financial aid and technical help, that is our responsibility and we would continue to prepare the services," he said.