Natural rubber is produced by the rubber trees Hevea brasiliensis.
The latex yield of the wild rubber trees is low and therefore is uneconomical to
commercially cultivate. It is the obligation of the Crop Improvement and Protection
Unit (CIPU) to produce new rubber clones with increasing latex yield. The Unit strives
to achieve the objective by diligently carrying out breeding and selection programmes.
New rubber progenies are produced by carrying out hand pollination annually. The
rubber progenies are subjected to rigorous evaluation and various selection trials
in the nurseries, small scale trials, block planting or large scale trials. The
clones are selected for high latex and timber yield, vigorous growth, good tree
morphology, resistance to wind, diseases and brown bast, and other secondary characters
such as thick bark. The current targets of the breeding programmes is to produce
clones which can produce more than 3500 kg/ha of latex and also yield more than
1.5 cubic meter of total rubberwood/tree. The Unit maintains a wide collection of
rubber genetic resources for its breeding programmes.
Loss of crop occurs when the rubber plants are infected by diseases
which defoliate or kill the trees. This Unit develops methods and procedures to
manage every economically important disease of rubber. These procedures take into
account reduction in cost of treatment, labour requirement and environment contamination.
The Unit also screen new clones for resistance to diseases and monitor clonal performance
against diseases in the field. CIPU also conducts research on weed control especially
to develop cost effective environment friendly procedures to manage weeds in the
Dr Safiah Atan
Head of Crop Improvement and Protection Unit