Rubber output in Indonesia, the world's largest grower after Thailand, may rise at least 6 percent this year as long as prolonged rains do not disrupt tapping, the head of a producers' group said.
"April to September should be dry, that is normal, but now south of the equator, it is still wet so it means it is disrupting rubber tapping," said Suharto Honggokusumo, executive director at the Indonesia Rubber Association.
The Southeast Asian nation is a major grower of coffee, palm oil, rubber and other agricultural commodities, with output dependent in part on favorable weather.
The country experienced drought last year, triggered by an El Nino, followed by wetter-than-usual conditions in the first quarter of this year.
Indonesia's rubber output grew about 8 percent a year between 2000 and 2006, bringing total production to 2.6 million tons last year, Honggokusumo said in a telephone interview from Jakarta.
"Unless weather disrupts our production, a minimum 6 percent increase from last year will be normal," he said.
Rubber futures traded on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange, the region's benchmark contract, have more than doubled since 2002 amid rising demand.
Over the past six months, the price gained 34 percent to ¥289,7 (US$2.43) a kilogram on concern last year's dry weather affected the trees' productivity.
This year, Jakarta, the capital, was affected by the worst flooding in five years after heavy monsoon rains. The downpours destroyed 27 percent of the rice crop area, Agriculture Minister Anton Apriantono said on Feb. 7.
The archipelago, which straddles the equator, has 3.3 million hectares of rubber plantations, of which 70 percent are on Sumatra island, Honggokusumo said.
Trees in north Sumatra are less affected by recent rains than those in the south, he said.
The rest of the plantations are in Kalimantan and Java and some of those areas are affected by the rains, Honggokusumo added.
Rubber is used in the automobile and electronics industries.