table made from rubber tree

Rubber farmers in Zamboanga Sibugay see more lucrative use for retired trees

(Editor’s note: This article has been updated as of September 14, 2021)

Rubber farmers in Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay have a more aesthetic and profitable use for their senile, unproductive rubberwood trees, thanks to the DOST-Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI).

Through 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 now convert senile rubberwood trees into high-value products such as quality home and school furniture.

table made from rubber tree
Rubberwood can be turned into exquisite furniture such as this center table, which won an award at the 2019 Rubberwood Furniture Design Contest.

“We are very grateful to DOST-FPRDI because of what we have now,” said Esperidion M. Salburo, chair 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 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.”

In the last three years, DOST-FPRDI has trained Tarbemco members to maximize the use of old, unproductive rubberwood trees. Of Tarbemco’s 298 members, 78 attended the DOST-FPRDI’s training sessions on harvesting and sawmilling, rubberwood preservation and treatment, kiln drying, woodworking machine operation and maintenance, furniture making and basic finishing. They also received a complete line of processing 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,” Salburo said.

The Tarbemco plantation currently has 210 hectares of senile rubberwood trees which can yield as much as 31,500 cubic meters of valuable lumber. Aside from furniture, this abundant raw material may also be used to make joineries and moldings. (DOST-FPRDI)

Watch this short DTI Philippines video of rubber plantations in a nutshell, and how it can be a business for you: