Rich rewards for rubber?
In the mid-1990s, the landscape in many parts of Sumatraand Kalimantan was undergoing rapid change. International agencies such as the World Bank were promoting high-yieldingmonocultural rubber plantations and these were beginning to replace traditional, species-rich jungle rubber gardens on many smallholdings.Monocultural plantations provided farmers with higher yields and better incomes than jungle rubber. But there were disadvantages too. Converting jungle rubber to monocultural plantations required considerable capital investment, and the shift to more intensive systems of rubber production was causingsignificant loss of biodiversity.These trends prompted the World Agroforestry Centre and itspartners to devise alternative systems of rubber agroforestry which would improve smallholder yields and incomes, yet retain a good measure of some biodiversity. Over the next decade,scientists tested a range of systems, selecting technologies that were appropriate for smallholders who had relatively little cash,limited family labour and small landholdings.As this booklet shows, this remains a work in progress.