By Diogo Esperante:

The 2018 APABOR Series of Lectures and the IRRDB Good Agricultural Practices Workshop turned São José do Rio Preto city into the World Rubber Capital for a week! The international BC Sekhar Award presented to Brazil’s Dr. Paulo Gonçalves filled all with pride

Diogo Esperante

Inhabitants In the small city of São José do Rio Preto are used to Natural Rubber. The city is the biggest NR producer of the American Continent accounting for 15% of the whole Latin American output. Along with the neighboring cities of Monte Aprazível and Votuporanga, the region accounts for 60% of Brazilian Rubber production (about 30% of Latin America) and 80% of all national Processing Plants.
What was different in the last week of November 2018 was the visit of some celebrities.
Distinguished people like Datuk Dr. Abdul Aziz (IRRDB), Salvatore Pinizotto (IRSG), and Jom Jacob (ANRPC) were among a few “rubber celebrities” that together turned the region into a “World Rubber Capital”, at least for one week.
On November 19, international delegations from countries like Cameroon (represented by Juteau Tussé), Colombia (Mauricio de Greiff), Guatemala (Pablo Domingues) joined over 30 Brazilian researchers from different institution partners to IAC to hear presentations from the Brazilian and International experts.
Dr. Kamarudin Ab Malek (Malaysia) made a presentation on alternative uses of rubber and took the crowd’s attention with impressive data about Rubber Bearings for bridges and buildings.
Dr Suthee Instrakul (Thailand) showed the public a comprehensive take on Thailand’s Rubber Industry and how the country made technology transfer its priority. Rudolf Galng (Philippines) laid out his country´s rubber data with impressive expansion in the last few years.
Leading the international delegation, Datuk Dr. Aziz talked about the importance of International Cooperation along with an eye-opening alert regarding new Hevea diseases outbreaks all over the world. From Brazil, Dr. Erivaldo Scaloppi (IAC) led a group of experts that shared the stage to talk on different aspects of the Brazilian Natural Rubber.
Cassio Scomparin (Planthec Rubber) presented the Brazilian Plato and the concept of Scape Area showing what are the technical aspects of Natural Rubber Cultivation in the main Brazilian NR producing region.
In an interesting Pannel, Dr. Anete Pereira and Lívia Sousa (Unicamp) proved how Molecular Biology has helped and may contribute even further with breeding programs by using DNA technology as a resource.
Dr. Juan Sierra talked on Brazilian Hevea phitopatology while Yuzen Kunisawa gave a presentation on economic and social aspects of Brazil’s NR monitored by the Instituto de Economia Agrícola (IEA).
Informing impressive high yields, José Fernando Benesi, presented Brazil’s new and vibrant rubber frontier in the state of Goias. Clones like PR 255, E 107 and PB 217 are considered good choices for the region.
On the 20th, Dr. Scaloppi himself gave us the pleasure to learn from his own words the main projects that IAC has developed with special attention to the institute’s breading program (led by the great Dr. Paulo Gonçalvez), and the celebrated IAC 500 Series with fast growth rates and huge yields (with already 18 years of research).
Dr. Maria Alice from Embrapa Instruments (São Carlos SP) demonstrated how her top-notch Rubber Laboratory has helped the IAC Breading Program and, at the same time, developed impressive works on rubber with nano composites.
Dr. Éverton Cordeiro (Embrapa Amazon) gave a beautiful presentation on the current status of his researches conducted directly on the Forest that is the Mother Land of Hevea, while Dr. Ramli spoke about all the expeditions done to the Amazon (including the one he led in 1995) and IRRDB plans to do another one.
Brazilian Agricultural Ministry representative Luiz Pacheco enlightened the public on the new Brazilians Biodiversity Access Law, with a good news: “This law is an advance! And it can help the access of biodiversity by guaranteeing that it is made in a fair, organized and just way.” Dr. Aziz asked Luiz for further information on how an expedition project should be organized, and a meeting of the IRRDB together with IAC and APABOR was proposed by Pacheco.
In the afternoon, before leaving for a field visit, a panel conducted by my self (Diogo Esperante) presented a Brazilian reference Dr. Adonias Castro (CEPLAC) on how to turn agro-forestry into a Public Police to boost the economic feasibility of rubber (without creating any disease problems) while different public and private models were presented by Mauricio de Greiff (Confederacion Cauchera Colombia), Dr. Ricardo Junior (IAC) and Dr. Juliano Quarterolli (CATI). At the end, Pablo Domingues presented the state of Certifications in Guatemala and the potentials for other countries.
The field visit was a great opportunity to see the famous IAC 500 series face-to-face!
The next day (21th) was the turn to visit Brazil’s biggest NR Processing Plant — BRASLATEX.
With 45,000 tonnes of dry rubber capacity per year, the Brazilian company showed the visitors how the Brazilian rubber is technically advanced. It is now working on household grades specially designed for world’s leading tire manufacturers who have their factories in Brazil and have together chosen BRASLATEX, one of the region’s main processors.
Lunch was served at a near by plantation owned by Hevea Forte’s Cooperative.
The visitors were amazed with the Cooperative’s model (implemented over 5,000 ha of planted area). The way of appreciating and caring for its tappers and the use of softwares to create traceability and help in the production management were regarded as some of the main reasons for the group’s success.

APABOR Lecture Series

On November 22 and 23, a record of more than 400 participants enjoyed the APABOR’S Lecture Series! The 3rd Agribusiness Rubber Fair also set records by gathering 31 sponsors including Input Manufacturers – Equipment, Machinery and even a bank (debuting the presence of the Credicitrus Mobile Agency at the event). The cycle, received support from the Agriculture Secretariat of São José do Rio Preto city and the local Commercial Association (Acirp). The Official media Channel was Campo Aberto newspaper.
“I want to thank everyone who participated in the event. APABOR has been looking for ways to reach a common denominator that will benefit all those who work in the rubber industry, be it a processing plant, a producer, or a rubber tapper. We producers have to make a better management of our plantations and not just focus on the price. Focusing on issues such as efficiency of tapping, soil fertilization, little by little, will also help to improve the whole industry,” said Fabio Magrini, President of Apabor, during the opening of the event.

Brazilian Speakers

Among the many National speakers, Joao Sampaio (former Agricultural Secretary for SP State) told the history of rubber pricing in Brazil.
While Alexandre Pimentel (from Goias company OL Látex) showed the crowd how to manage efficiently a rubber estate, a Technology Innovation Panel put together Molecular Biology, Tapping Automatization, Management Softwares and Startup Financing solutions to discuss how to revolutionize natural rubber production.
Mariana Rabelo (NXTP labs) cited examples of successful models and collective arrangements that are boosting startups in agriculture. Alessandro Gomes (AGS) took a dive into different important aspects of management softwares for NR plantations, while Fábio Colela (Smartex) took the crowd by storm with a prototype of a Autonomous tapping machine and Drones that can measure trees girths and map plantations to help to plan their opening!
Towards the close of 22nd, Dr. Henrique Melo (a lawyer) explained why compliance is an important issue not only for tire manufacturers but, as he explained “due to pear to pear liability”, also to the whole industry.
That gave way to the launching of the APABOR Compliance Agreement and the announcement of the creation of the APABOR “Good Rubber” stamp certification program for Processing Plants that already included 80% of all processing plants in Brazil. At a night filled with announcements, APABOR thanked the presence of Salvatore Pinizotto making a public statement: “In 2019 APABOR will be back as a full member of IRSG.”
The next day, the APABOR Committee presented its trip to different South-East Asian Countries. What was highlighted most was the warm welcome they received in India, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Characteristics of both Smallholders and Estates were put together for comparing the performance of each industry in a good benchmark experience. Research and extension in all countries really impressed the group.
Later, Dr. Carolina Silveira showed the importance of planning the successions of Natural Rubber Plantations saying: “There are heirs and their are successors. if you don’t plan, you are just an heir and the risk of losing what took your family so much work to build is high!” Still on the law perspective, Dr. Elimara Sallum discussed alternative models to hire tappers reducing costs but made an alert: “All models have different costs and also different risks, you must know both and plan within the context of your realities.”
Pirelli was represented by Ms Yvette Richards (the company’s R&D in Brazil and a world reference in cup-lump quality). Ms Richards showed that through an intense partnership with Processing Plants and the help of APABOR’S Program “Borracha Legal”, the incidence of “contaminants” in GEB 10 (Brazilian TSR) has gone down dramatically!
Marcos Cerqueira talked about leadership and how Human Resource Management skills can benefit NR production.

International Presentations

In the presentation on the management of the World Natural Rubber Value Chain, Dr Aziz talked about his first visits to Brazil in 1976, when he was in Bahia to study the disease of the leaves, a disease that prevented the growth of rubber trees in the region. He also expressed great concern at the proliferation of diseases in Southeast Asia, such as Fusicoccum and Corynespora. “Brazil has a great advantage because it is now cultivating in a region that is free from disease. The drought during the re-foliage period is a great Brazilian advantage that most producing countries do not have,” Dr. Aziz said. “Research and development are crucial in finding solutions to the current challenges we face. Rubber is cyclical, has ups and downs. We have to strengthen international organizations because natural rubber is a gift that God has given us and we have to promote their use beyond just the tires. The rubber tree is one of the best trees out there. With the rubber culture, we promote integration between different systems; from small producers to large companies, and the possibility of consorting with other crops, improving our income,” he added.
Jom Jacobs, who talked on Future Markets and Price Formation for Natural Rubber, explained that in trying to analyze the trends for the rubber market, it is necessary to take into account all fundamental aspects (supply and demand) and non-fundamental issues. And it showed us how some technical analysis tools work to identify price trends in the future market. “If we make a comparison of 2017 and 2018, the stock has dropped, but why is the price not rising? Why is the market recessive? This is due to the impact of the difference between what Jacob calls “actual production which is low and potential production which is much higher.” This means that currently even the supply being low (due to the unfavorable climatic as well as the price situation), the markets should not react because, as Jacob says, “Agents know that the price increase will favor a higher real production, and that consequent increase in supply will cause the price to fall again. This prevents prices from reacting. This condition should be maintained until 2022 when the fall in the expansion of new rubber plantations will create a fall in the supply of rubber in relation to consumption. By 2024, the supply situation is expected to worsen and then prices should suffer a great increase!”
Closing international presentations, Pinizzotto cautioned on the need to analyze the rubber economy to be fair, secure and focused on the sustainability of the global chain. “We have to have an open and sincere dialogue to have a productive and more sustainable focus on the chain for all. Innovation and Research & development with a focus on innovation and knowledge are crucial to achieving sustainable results in the rubber market.”
Also, during the cycle, Paulo de Souza Gonçalves, received the B.C. Sekhar Award for Research Excellence 2018 from the IRRDB. Gonçalves was honored for 46 years of his dedicated contribution to natural rubber, publishing more than 200 works in the area. A PhD in Genetics from the University of São Paulo, he is currently a researcher at Embrapa and thanked all the colleagues involved in the profession during all these years.
We consider the week was a success not only because it broke all the records, but also because we had the honor of an international award to Dr. Paulo Gonçalves that filled us with pride. All of us at APABOR, like Dr. Paulo, believe in the potential of NR through our association all these last 25 years! This belief is essential to make the State of São Paulo the largest rubber producer in the country.
We thank all the participants, sponsors, exhibitors and speakers. This edition was a watershed and we expect that the event, which happens every two years, will grow ever more!