Environment | In harmony with nature
Enhancing contribution (Procurement) In harmony with nature

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Simple disease diagnostic technology for rubber trees

Bundles of fungal fi laments

Mushroom-like growth

Bridgestone established a breakthrough simple disease diagnostic technology for easily, quickly, and accurately diagnosing white root disease*1 affecting Hevea brasiliensis, traditionally a major source of natural rubber. We utilize the LAMP method,*2 a diagnostic technology that makes practical use of biotechnology. Using a reagent kit developed based on genome sequence information of pathogens analyzed by Bridgestone, this cutting-edge technology enables simple visual confirmation of the presence or absence of pathogens without the use of special devices even when in the field. This enables the early detection of white root disease that spreads by infection caused by pathogens in the soil and is expected to prevent the spread of infection from afflicted trees to healthy ones. The development of this technology, which can be used irrespective of expertise or experience, is expected to be effective at controlling damage while offering simpler maintenance. Going forward, we will enhance collaboration with universities in Indonesia and Japan and contribute to the stable supply of natural rubber and the protection of rubber trees through the adoption of this technology.

  1. White root disease (Rigidoporus microporus) is a disease of rubber trees caused by a type of filamentous fungus. The disease starts in the root system, eventually spreading to the rest of the tree and killing it. It is difficult to detect in the early stages of infection. At present, there is no radical treatment, thus if a tree is affected, the infected section must be removed and drug treatment administered. As shown in the pictures above, affected trees develop bundles of fungal filaments and mushroom-like growths.
  2. The LAMP method is a gene amplification method developed by Eiken Chemical Co., Ltd. It is used to amplify and detect specific DNA sequences for pathogens in the soil.

Forest restoration around natural rubber farms

Rubber tree forest

Achievement reported at the local meeting

Near P.T. Bridgestone Kalimantan Plantation (BSKP) in Indonesia’s South Kalimantan Province, there is a neglected state-owned forest that was destroyed by fire and other disasters. Bridgestone and Waseda University operate the W-BRIDGE initiative to conserve the global environment. As one of the projects of W-BRIDGE, Waseda University and Japan International Forestry Promotion and Cooperation Center have collaborated with BSKP, Lambung Mangkurat University and the Tanah Laut Regency Forestry Department to engage in revitalizing this state-owned forest while utilizing a citizen forestry program.

In the project that started in 2012, W-BRIDGE helps local citizens plant rubber trees and other agricultural produce in the forest, as well as native trees and shrubs that used to grow there long ago. This forest management provides high economic value for the community and contributes to biodiversity conservation. Local residents also conduct patrols and other activities to prevent forest fires so that the revitalized forests do not fall into decay again. Through these activities, local residents become self-sufficient and are able to create mechanisms for the long-term revitalization and maintenance of forests. BSKP supports them by offering rubber tree saplings and agricultural technologies.

As of 2018, this project has completed a cumulative total of 70 hectares of forest reclamation. This project has been extremely well received as one of the innovative solution to restore forests and improve local people’s lives. It was recognized with visits by Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry in August 2016, and Indonesian President in May 2017.

Improving productivity of natural rubber at small farm with technology

It is important to realize that the majority of natural rubber production in the world is conducted by smallholder rubber farmers in Southeast Asia. The Bridgestone Group uses large volumes of natural rubber, but unfortunately, productivity of the rubber trees raised by these farmers is often low and the quality of natural rubber produced varies. To help smallholder farmers improve the quality of their operations, the Bridgestone Group provides Hevea rubber tree seedlings and conducts technical training in key producing countries using the same productivity-improvement techniques the Group developed for our own rubber farms at the agricultural training center established in the city of Siantar in North Sumatra. It also implemented a technical training program for instructor candidates selected from various areas.

Such initiatives are expected to improve the quality of natural rubber, increase income per unit area for the farmers and help control expansion of agricultural lands.

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