South Asian upland cultivators are transitioning from subsistence production to commercial production using mainly small-scale rubber cultivation, which helps this transition and reduces poverty. This study, conducted October 2007 through February 2009, examines how small-scale rubber planting enhances people's livelihoods. Data were gathered from Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka. We found differences in rubber tree stock, growth, management, and livelihood impact. Plantations in India and Sri Lanka were doing well, while Bangladesh tree stock was low. Strong institutional support, proper silvicultural practices, funding for plantation maintenance, and participant awareness of benefits contributed to satisfactory plantation conditions in India and Sri Lanka, where participants realized good earnings from tapping, while Bangladeshi participants earned little. Because monoculture rubber plantations present risks, participants should practice mixed cropping. Rubber agroforestry can be the best alternative to monoculture rubber plantations because it reconciles economic and sustainable uses of natural resources, and biodiversity conservation.
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