According to foreign media on December 17, more than half of the rubber production areas in Malaysia are currently idle, which poses a threat to the country's status as a leading producer of natural rubber.
According to the country’s data, 683,000 hectares of the 1.2 million hectares of rubber plantations are left unused due to lack of sufficient workers to maintain them. In comparison, only 380,760 hectares of land were left unused in 2010.
The Malaysian Small Rubber Plantation Association (NASH) said that as more rubber tappers abandon their small plantations, movement restrictions have made things worse. Movement restrictions have resulted in 50,000 hectares of rubber land being left unused in 2020 alone.
As a result, Malaysia's rubber production (dry rubber and latex) has dropped sharply from 1.28 million tons in 2006 to 639,830 tons in 2019.
The government has made some efforts to increase rubber production, especially latex, and allocated 16 million ringgits to establish "latex production corridors" in traditionally non-rubber producing states such as Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan.
Nash Supreme Council member Abdul Halim Hassan said that if the oversupply is not resolved and the import of cheap natural rubber is not restricted, this kind of funding seems to be infeasible. The supply of low-priced latex is abundant and increasing, especially in Thailand (estimated to produce 1.2 million tons of latex per year) and Vietnam. At the same time, domestic downstream industries can obtain unlimited and cheaper imported natural rubber from Thailand and Vietnam, especially latex used to make gloves.
He said that gloves and other latex-based products need to guarantee long-term supply, and local manufacturers are seeking to secure supply from other sources to maintain their business. In addition, fluctuations in raw material prices and increased latex allergies have led to increased demand for synthetic substitutes, which poses a threat to natural rubber.
Medical gloves are made of natural rubber latex or synthetic rubber latex. Initially, most medical gloves were made based on natural rubber latex. However, due to the increase in allergies to natural rubber latex in the United States and other major importing countries, more and more buyers choose to order gloves made of synthetic rubber latex. The demand for this poses a threat.