A group of rubber farmers have stepped up their livelihood through the production of a local motorcycle tire brand.
In a statement Tuesday, Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Manny Piñol said the group will help produce Pilipinas Agila Tires–the first farmer-owned motorcycle tire brand using locally-harvested rubber cup lumps.
“This marks a small step forward in the program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to elevate the farmer from the status of a raw material producer to the processor and merchandiser of finished products with added-value,” Piñol said.
The Philippine Rubber Farmers’ Cooperative (PRFC), composed of farmers from Mindanao and Palawan, leads the effort to develop finished products from raw rubber cup lumps.
The Pilipinas Agila Tires are designed for working motorcycles, commonly known as ‘habal-habal,’ and tricycles.
“We, along with our children, will be the marketing agents of the Pilipinas Agila tires and we can easily sell these even to our members because almost everybody owns a working motorcycle,” PRFC head Amando Pedregosa said.
It will be in the market next month at prices lower than imported tires.
President Rodrigo Duterte will be requested to officially launch the marketing of the Pilipinas Agila 300×17 motorcycle tires which came exactly one year after the Philippine Rubber Industry Road Map was crafted and presented to him by the DA and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Organized by DA in 2017 and assisted by the DTI, the PRFC entered into a processing and marketing agreement with Leo Tires Manufacturing of Valenzuela, Metro Manila in a supply and buy-back scheme.
In the agreement, PRFC will buy the cup lumps produced by its members and process these into rubber blocks called SPR-20 which will be sold to Leo Tires Manufacturing.
The Leo Tires-manufactured Pilipinas Agila will be bought back by the PRFC to be sold in the market.
The DA, through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), has approved a PHP10-M initial working capital of the PRFC with a two percent interest payable in eight years.
In the computation made by PRFC officials, the cooperative will make a little profit from buying cup lumps from its members and selling these as SPR-20 to Leo Tires Manufacturing.
The bigger margin of profit, however, will be realized in the sale of the Pilipinas Agila motorcycle tires where the cooperative is expected to gain at least PHP100 per tire sold.
Initially, only the 300 x17 motorcycle tire will be produced mainly because this is widely used and easily marketable in the provinces.
But seeing a wide opportunity for business, Pedregosa shares future plans laid by the cooperative.
“Our next move is to manufacture other tire sizes, including tires for small tractors like ‘kuliglig‘,” Pedregosa said.
DA targets that before the Duterte administration ends in 2022, the country’s rubber farmers will have their own tire manufacturing plant in Mindanao.
“We thank President Duterte for his support and we promise him, we will handle this project well and we will move forward and liberate ourselves from the bondage of middlemen and traders who buy our produce at very low prices and sell us expensive tires,” Pedregosa said.