KUALA NERANG: The Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA) has drafted a rubber smallholders’ programme to improve their productivity in the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) covering Perak, Penang, Kedah and Perlis.

Chief executive Datuk Seri Jebasingam Issace John said the pioneer programme is an effort to improve latex production and increase the income of rubber tappers and smallholders in the region.

He said the first phase would be a sustainable pilot model involving 150 participants who would be given a special incentive for latex production.

“With this latex production, their income will increase up to 30%,” he told a press conference in conjunction with the visit of Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir to the Kedah Rubber City (KRC) site project in Bukit Ketapang Plantation here today.

Jebasingam said he is optimistic that latex production in the country could be improved through the programme to fulfil KRC’s latex demand and reduce dependency on imported latex.

Earlier, Mukhriz visited the KRC site project which is being co-developed by NCIA and supported by the Kedah government.

KRC, spanning 505.85ha, is a high-impact strategic programme planned as a catalyst for socioeconomic development, especially in Padang Terap and Kedah in general.

Meanwhile, Mukhriz said the state government is confident that KRC can be a catalyst for the economic growth of the people, besides contributing to the state’s income.

“We want this rubber material to be used for high-value products, and preferably the value-added work should be carried out in Malaysia, especially in KRC,” he told the media.

He added that the KRC development, which focuses on seven main clusters, is expected to create 14,500 job opportunities by 2030 and has the potential to attract RM10 bil worth of investments.

“Actually, Malaysia is the most advanced country in terms of research and development (R&D) in the rubber sector, we have many rubber research institutions. Now, all R&D discoveries need to be translated into product form.

“So, we developed this place (KRC) to encourage more investors to locate their factories with their own R&D or what is already available for application in the form of products that can be marketed,” he added.

According to him, the seven main clusters include advanced latex products, automotive rubber components, rubber engineering products and biotechnology.

On the development of the project, Mukhriz said to date, the foundation and infrastructure works costing RM120 mil is being implemented under the first phase.

The phase two development of the project worth RM270 mil and is expected to commence in 2022. – SOURCE BERNAMA

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