Rubber farmers in the municipality of Naga in Zamboanga Sibugay recently expressed their gratitude to the DOST-Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI) for creating new jobs and extra source of income using a technology that brought back “life” to deadwood.

Thru the project "Processing and Utilization of Senile and Unproductive Rubberwood (Hevea brasiliensis) Trees for the Production of High Value Furniture, Mouldings and Joineries”, the farmers were able to convert senile rubberwood trees or deadwood into high-value products such as quality home and school furniture.

TARBEMCO’s chair Esperidion M.Salburo during the closing ceremony of the DOST-FPRDI training on furniture making.

"We are very grateful to DOST-FPRDI because of what we have now,” said Esperidion M. Salburo, chairman of the Tambanan Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multi-Purpose Cooperative (TARBEMCO). “Without their help, the old rubberwood trees in our community will only be used for fruit crates, pallets, and firewood. Now, we can also use them to make premium products like furniture, doors, door jambs and other builders’ woodworks that will bring in much needed income for us."

Rubberwood can be turned into exquisite furniture such as this center table, which won 3rd place during the 2019 Rubberwood Furniture Design Contest.

In the last two years, DOST-FPRDI conducted a series of training for TARBEMCO members to teach them how they can maximize the use of old, unproductive rubberwood trees. Of TARBEMCO’s 298 members, 78 have already attended the DOST-FPRDI’s trainings on harvesting and sawmilling, rubberwood preservation and treatment, kiln drying, woodworking machine operation and maintenance, furniture making and basic finishing. The rubber farmers also received a complete line of processing equipment and facilities necessary for every stage of furniture production - from sawmilling to finishing.

"We are now inspired to plant more rubber trees because we have realized their value,” said Chairman Salburo.

The TARBEMCO plantation currently has 210 hectares of senile rubberwood trees that can yield as much as 31,500 cubic meters of valuable lumber.

(Juliemar V. Purificacion & Rizalina K. Araral, 20 August 2020)

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