INCREASE RUBBER SMALLHOLDERS INCOME THROUGH RUBBER BASED INTEGRATION | INSTITUTE OF PLANTATION STUDIES (IKP)
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INCREASE RUBBER SMALLHOLDERS INCOME THROUGH RUBBER BASED INTEGRATION

INCREASE RUBBER SMALLHOLDERS INCOME THROUGH RUBBER BASED INTEGRATION.

Zulkefly Sulaiman, Fariz Adzmi and Mohd Yusoff Abd. Samad

Institute of Plantation Studies


INTRODUCTION

 

Presently, the smallholders’ sector plays a predominant role in the growth and development of the Malaysian rubber industry. In 2016, this sector accounted for 92.7% of the country’s production (673,520 mt) and 92.1% of planted area (1.078 million hectares). However, In spite of significant contribution by the rubber smallholders to the growth of the industry, majority of them have experienced with low productivity and income largely due to uneconomic size of holding, planting of non-recommended clones, low adoption of technology, capital deficiency and low and unstable of rubber price (Ismail cited in Mohamed Senawi et al., 2001). The low yield from the rubber smallholdings with an average of 1400 kg/ha/year (Malaysian Rubber Statistics 2016)  coupled  with low current rubber price  (average of RM 2.00/kg cuplump, 2016), caused rubber growers to find alternative approach to increase land productivity and income. One of the approaches is through adopting rubber based agroforestry/integration.    The income generated by smallholders from their uneconomic-size holding when monocropped with rubber is still small compared to other crops. Several approaches  have been developed in Malaysia to improve rubber smallholders living standard.One of the approches is to modify land use system by practising intercropping/agroforestry to maximize land use and  to increase land productivity as well as to generate supplementary income of rubber smallholders in a sustainable manner.

 

Planting systems to accommodate agroforestry or intercropping in the rubber holding have been developed in Malaysia under two ecosystems, i.e.

i) under rubber conventional planting (ecosystem 1) and

ii) hedge-row planting (ecosystem 2).

 

Under ecosystem 1, research conducted in Malaysia found available interrow areas is between 45- 85% Photo-synthetic active radiation (PAR) for the first three years for  various short-term cash crops such as painapple, bananna and  maize etc. to be integrated under rubber. Thereafter the availability of light is between 15-20 % PAR  to support shade-tolerant crops such  as Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia), Misai Kucing (Orthosipon aristatus, Hempedu Bumi (Adrographis paniculata) and Salak (Sallaca idulis). )(not discussed in this aticle).    Under hedge-row rubber (ecosystem 2), rubber planting system was modified to permits high light tranmission and  provide wide space for  integration of annual and perenial crops throughout the economic life of rubber (not discuss in this article).

 

Requirement of Rubber Based Crop Integration

 

Basically, the rubber-based integration has the following objectives:

  1. The diversity of activities to reduce the risk and dependence solely on rubber - rubber smallholders need to proactively diversify crops so that they will not rely solely on a single crop such as rubber. At the time where rubber prices are low, this approach could increase the income of rubber smallholders through supplementary income from integrated farming, and when rubber prices soared, the income from crop integration activity will be a reward and a bonus  to rubber smallholders.
  2. Increased land productivity and income sustainability - through the integration of rubber  with other crops either by planting short terms crop/annual crop under rubber conventional planting or hedge-row planting. This approach will increase land productivity  and income continuously and to make the rubber plantation industry more sustainable and attractive.
  3. To increase the economic viability of small rubber holding where most of the size of smallholders in Malaysia is  less than 2 ha and uneconomic. Therefore, to increase the economic viability of small-sized holding, this  approach of crop integration is essential to ensure high land productivity and income of rubber smallholders.
  4. To increase interest in rubber plantation - more productive and viable approach will attract and encourage smallholders and plantation entrepreneurs to grow rubber in the future.
  5. In order to reduce abandoned rubber area - through crop integration activities, the abandoned rubber area will be more active and productive and able to generate attractive returns

 

Integration of rubber with annual/cash crops (Eco-system 1)

At  the normal planting distance of 6m x 3.7m (450 trees/ha) or 9 m x 2.5 m (444 trees/ha), rubber effectively occupies one-fifth of the planted area with approximately four-fifth of the remaining interrow areas available for any from of crop cultivation.         During immature period of rubber, light intensity is around 85 % PAR (0-2 year) and 45 % PAR (2-3 year) (Abdul Ghani et al., 2001).  This allows short term crops such as maize, pineapple banana etc. can be integrated under rubber for early income before rubber can be tapped.  A study by Zainol (2000) and Mohd Ghouse (2000) demonstrated that that agroforestry practices under rubber conventional eco-system provide additional income to the rubber smallholders during unproductive phase of rubber (Table 1).  For example one of the smallholders in Jelebu Negeri Sembilan grew pineapples for 2 years under conventional planting obtained additional income of RM 47,000/2years.    A smallholder in TSB Kg. Kuala Dal, Perak, obtained an income of RM 3735/season through integration of rubber with pineapple and banana (Table 1).  During difficult periods of low rubber price, rubber smallholders should be focused on high vale crops to be integrated under rubber based agroforestry such as planting of hybrid pinnapple (MD2). With planting of hybrid pinapple MD2 under immature rubber (ecosystem 1) with 50% of the available area can be used for integration, rubber smallholders is be expected to get additional income about RM 26,059 /season/ha.(Table 2). However, this activities only can sustain for the first three years before canopy closure due to light limitation

 

Table 1.  Additional Income from integration activities under rubber conventional planting system.

Place

understory

crop

Periods from

establishment

Mean additional income from agroforestry

Source

(i) TSB kg. K. Dal, Perak (1 ha)

 

Pineapple & banana

3 years

RM 3735/season

Zainol  (2000)

 

 

(ii)  Jelebu NS

(5.2 ha.)

Pineapple

2 years

RM 47000  per two  years

Mohd Ghouse (2000)

 

 

Table 2. Expected income from integration of pinnapple MD2 under rubber conventional planting system.

Planting systems

Conventional planting

Understory crop

Pineapple density/ha

43572

21786

 (0.9m x 0.6m x 0.3m)

 

(50% of the area)

No of fruits (80% bear fruit)

39214

19607

Mean weight (1.2 kg/fruit)

58,822 kg/ha

29,411 kg/ha

Gross income (RM/season)

117,644

58,411

(Rm 2.00/kg - farm gate)

 

 

Production cost (Rm)

67,704

32,352

Net profit (Rm/season)

52939

26,059

 


Picture 1. Integration of Rubber with Pineapple

 

 

Picture 2. Integration of Rubber with Banana


 

Conclusion

Rubber based agroforestry/integration offer several benefits to rubber smallholders in Malaysia through the integration of rubber with annual crops/cash crops for the first three years of planting. During the low of rubber price, this activity can help the rubber smallholders to increase land productivity and income as well as  to improve standard of living.

 

Date of Input: 25/09/2018 | Updated: 05/10/2018 | ainzubaidah

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