Tapping into rubber


North Fly Rubber is the Western Province’s leading exporting agribusiness. With further investment occurring, the sector has potential to grow further.

The development of sectors such as commercial agriculture and eco-tourism can provide a sustainable income for even Western Province’s most remote communities. In this context, the progress being registered by the smallholder rubber sector is nothing short of remarkable.

Cooperative structure

The industry is arranged on a cooperative model with North Fly Rubber owned by around 3,000 rubber growing families from the Lake Murray, Balimo, Suki and Fly River areas. Growers deliver their cup rubber to a designated collection point in their area where it is transported to the river port of Kiunga. There, it is processed in North Fly Rubber’s factory and converted into a form in which it can be exported to markets such as Europe, China and Australia.

Between 1995 and 2010 North Fly Rubber exported 10,606 tonnes of processed rubber, earning 34 million kina (US$15.3 million) in foreign exchange and providing 15.8 million kina (US$7.15 million) in income to its smallholders.

Ensuring viability

North Fly Rubber’s Chairman Warren Dutton, an experienced businessman and former PNG Government Cabinet Minister, notes with pride how clients in Germany specifically request the company’s signature PNGCR10 product over that of the competition.

Yet he is quick to point out that, regardless of quality, the industry would not be viable if it had not been for a long-term partnership between the company and Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML). Since 1992, North Fly Rubber has benefited from a freight subsidy arrangement with OTML (through its Ok Tedi Development Foundation) that enables it to overcome the tyranny of distance posed by its remote location. Under this agreement, OTML both subsidises the fuel for the vessels that bring the cup rubber to Kiunga, as well as providing transport on its own vessels from there to a convenient trans-shipment port (Port Moresby or Queensland, Australia).

Expanding the grower base

In 2003, PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) formed a partnership with North Fly Rubber to help expand the scheme in the particularly remote Lake Murray area. Funding of around 15 million kina (US$7 million) was divided between a development grant and sustenance loans provided by PNG Microfinance. By the end of 2010, the Lake Murray Village Rubber project had seen 1,646 growers from 21 villages planting a total of 1,960 hectares of rubber trees.

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The challenge is to see this success replicated in other designated ‘least developed’ areas of Western Province. As a result, it is on the verge of signing an agreement with North Fly Rubber to implement a major expansion of the smallholder rubber industry in the areas including Suki and Bituri in South Fly District, Balimo/Kawito in Middle Fly District and Agrim in North Fly District.

Under the Western Province Rubber Development Project, approximately 40 million kina (US$18.1 million) has been committed up to 2020 to facilitate the planting of 2,800 hectares of high-yielding rubber at the above sites, along with financing the associated rubber tree nurseries, processing infrastructure, extension effort and sustenance loan program to assist growers to establish one hectare blocks on their customary land.

Although this project will take some years to come to fruition, it will signal a major expansion of the province’s rubber sector.

Rubber: the perfect fit for the Western Province’s remote communities

Small-holder rubber is ideally suited to both the environment, the remoteness of the communities and the lifestyle of the people living in Western Province. Once mature, it provides a source of income all year round (provided the farmer is located near a buying depot).

Cup lump rubber requires no special post-harvest treatment. It can be stored under rudimentary conditions and sold months and even years later to a buyer for processing.

The industry is not reliant upon the establishment of high cost infrastructure as in the case of oil palm.

Rubber planting across Western Province

Kiunga (North Fly District) 4,267 hectares

Lake Murray (Middle Fly District) 2,261 hectares

Balimo (Middle Fly District) 1,510 hectares

Suki (South Fly District) 501 hectares

Oriomo Bituri (South Fly District) 183 hectares

Total rubber planted 8,721 hectares

NB• There are currently 9,482 growers in the province, with the average block size ranging from 0.2 to 4.0 hectare per grower. In future years, these growers will be assisted to develop a further two hectares each in order to achieve a viable family income from their rubber.

Source: Stephen Chartaris, Consultant

This article first published in PNG’s Western Province Business and Investment Guide 2012


  1. Christine Anivai English says

    How and where do I buy the seedlings for rubber and cocoa?

  2. Michael Akis says

    Long term rubber supplier in containers to supply to israel.
    Please contact me if you think you are able to meet over 100 tons.
    My contact
    Michael Akis
    Ph: 71315905

  3. Mel Pohei says

    Dear Dr,

    I’m Memel from Manus Province and I have been engaged by my local rubber growers to seek potential cup rubber buyer that he/she can deals with me directly of how we both can discuss. Discuss me on 76013782/email: mpohei61@gmail.com

  4. Joanne Taroa says

    Hi am Joanne Taroa of Popondetta in NOrthern province. Rubber is one of the cash crop here apart from OIl Palm. The people of this province needs ongoing business and income flow. There is no agent here. Am interested to establish a contact point here . We have a lot of rubber growers here, especially Kokoda area, Aieka in Sohe. We had an agent that was buying rubber but has stopped.
    Am volunteering to be an agent here to assist in service delivery. Please contact me on email below for business partnership venture.

    • Dear Joanne,

      What is your email address and phone number. It is not listed here? Just been busy with other pressing matters but can make referrals to the buyers overseas.

      Thank you.

  5. I come from Balimo in the western Province, a female Nursing Officer currently employed at Goroka Provincial Hospital, My ambition or dream is to be come a Business woman who is willing to export rubber to Overseas markets. Lot of rubber trees grown in the region but someone has to have the knowledge to buy and export and that’s my aim or dream. to help my people come out of their nut shells.
    I am at the moment filling in the Australia Awards Women Trading Globally Application Form
    Your guide to my plans will be highly appreciated

  6. can we get into cocoa production,our land is best suitable for cocoa,same as rubber..anyone interested contact me on Ph:73328950 or,email:giwepaul@gmail.com

    • Hello Giwe,
      Where is your place? We had recently launched a cocoa cooperative near Lae (Labuta LLG) area. What you need to do is get in touch with your agriculture officers to help you cultivate cocoa.However, depending on where you are in PNG ensure there is infrastructure and transportation in place to take your product to the nearest fermentary or buyer(s) who can buy and dry the beans, then sell it for you.
      Dr. Jonah Tisam

  7. Got overseas market for rubber should you need to export. Thank you.

    • Kenneth Kohun says

      I’m interested..I’ve got a total of 2400 rubber tress..contact me n let’s arrange for export..phone number# 70977901

      • Dear Kenneth,
        Thank you for responding to my comment. I am now overseas but yes, I will contact my buyers to see if they will buy. Where is your product now? Is it in Western Province, Central or Port Moresby? If you could provide the location and advise me of the logistics – this will help with the viability of buying and export.

        Kind regards,
        Dr. Jonah Tisam
        +64 226 96 8876

        • Jonah Tisam, PhD says

          Dear Kenneth,

          I have not heard from you since our last conversation. Are you still interested or have you found an overseas buyer? Advise me at your earliest convenience, please.


          Dr. Jonah Tisam
          Mobile: +64 225085377 (new number)
          Email: jtisam060@gmail.com

      • Dear Kenneth,

        Do you have an email address I can contact you? Calling PNG is expensive so I need an email address where I can message you at minimal cost.

        Kind regards,
        Dr. Jonah Tisam

    • Dr. Tisam
      I am from manus and we are interested in exporting cup rubber. I am acting on behalf of my family business – silan limited who is keen to export.

      Silan email address – silanlimited@gmail.com
      Send email as well to me: jsolok747@gmail.com

      Regards john solok

      • Dear John,

        Thank you for your email addresses and reply. My apologies I was overseas half the time and did not reply to your email until I saw the notice this morning. Let me get in touch with my contacts today and get back to you. In the meantime, could you please indicate the following:

        1. Logistics to fly or ship the product to port of call eg. ex-Lae to export to Asia
        2. How much are you selling a cup of rubber for in PNGKina?
        3. How much quantity can you supply a month?

        Please email the info to me on: jtisam060@gmail.com
        or whupinzltd@gmail.com
        Kind regards,

    • Badi Kumura says

      I am Badi Kumura from Suki. The farmers have planted new rubbers which i heard would be ready for tapping by next year and still we have alot of old matured plantations, but the problem is, we do not have a regular buyer stationed at Suki so the farmers are not very much interested in tapping. Seeing this as an opportunity, i have a great interest to station myself at Suki and buy rubber from farmers regularly like every two weeks, but the problem i have in doubt right nau is that, whom will i sell to? I need some help here so if there’s some company willing to buy strait from me please you may contact me on my email. badikumura@gmail.com or call me on my mobile 70557478 so we may discuss further on pricing an other issues. Thank you

  8. Rubber has been the only and major crop for Western Province since independence. However marketing the produce has been a major problem. There are very few rubber growers in Oriomo Bituri LLG area. i believe the crop can be and must be revived with much government funding for the growers to increase their capacity to produce the crop because it is a natural crop friendly to the environment.

    I intend to establish a private company to assist the rubber farmers in Wipim area of Oriomo Bituri LLG. My intention is to involve all the growers and potential growers to revive rubber as a major income earner for the people to sustain their living. Rubber can be developed into a major industry in the South Fly. Transportation for small growers will be very difficult to market it to Kiunga factory. I believe negotiations can be made with North Fly Rubber Company for subsidiary transportation arrangements.
    I come from Iamega village and have alot of arrable land for expanding existing rubber blocks as a way to assist my people at Iamega, and also the Wipim area people which include Uroe, Wonie, Gamaeve, Podare, Wipim, Kapal, Rual, Wim and other neighboring villages.
    Please inform me if this proposals can be negotiated. I will be seeking funding assistance from various sources. Your assistance will be highly appreciated.

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