Rubber tappers switch to night shift

JITRA, Feb 18: The scorching weather has forced some rubber tappers in this state to work at night to obtain higher latex production.

Mohd Jamil Shahbidin, 63, a rubber tapper from Felda Laka Selatan in Changlun, said the intense daytime temperatures have led to a reduction in latex production, thus affecting their income.

“When we tap during the day, we start at 6 am and finish by 9 am. As the temperature rises, latex flow lasts merely about two hours before it stops dripping.

“But if we tap during the night, the latex can continue to flow for up to four hours, so the latex production is even higher,” he told reporters here last night.

Mohd Jamil, who is also the Felda Laka Selatan Farm Bureau chairman, said that over 70 settlers there have switched to nighttime tapping to achieve better results.

“In the current hot spell, tapping during the day might yield around 700 kilogrammes of latex per month, but tapping at night could result in up to one tonne per month,” he said.

Another tapper, Rodhi Md Rejab, 47, said the hot weather causes the rubber tree leaves to fall, which, in turn, intensifies the heat in the plantation area as the sun rises.

Following this, the daytime heat is becoming unbearable for rubber tappers, and they are often forced to return early, even if they have not completed tapping.

“If we work during the day, we need to stop by 9 am as the weather gets too hot. However, if we tap at night, we can work a little longer and tap more trees. This will ultimately increase the yield,” he said.

He added that tappers who tap at night usually go to their respective rubber plantation after Isyak prayer or around 10 pm and finish tapping at 2 or 3 am.

As for Mohd Nor Hamid, 75, although tapping at night is somewhat risky due to the darkness and threat of wild and poisonous animals, he has to do it to earn an income.

“Before entering the rubber plantation, we need to be prepared. Bring a lamp, wear appropriate attire and boots and ensure the plantation is clear of bushes,” he said.