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Para Rubber Cultivation in Northern Laos  

Para Rubber Cultivation in Northern Laos. Constraints and Chances

. This study has collected numerous details on the production of para rubber in the world, in the region and in the Lao PDR itself. While the world's demand for rubber is increasing the planted areas presently are not sufficient to meet the demand. Most of the producing countries are enlarging their production. . It has been proved that rubber can be grown economically successful in Northern Laos once capital and labour is available and once a community organized like a kind of association is able to buffer the shortfalls of such a risky long-term investment. Cold tolerance of para rubber clones is a precondition, and China and Thailand have done research to overcome these limits. Laos could make use of these results, too. . Numerous investors of all kind from inside and outside Laos are trying to promote rubber cultivation in a situation, which so far lacks nearly any kind of guideline neither in agricultural, environmental aspect, nor in legal respects. . The environmental implication of rubber cultivation is severe - even when established carefully in combination with cover crops, the former biodiversity of the forest is reduced next to zero, erosion is strongly increased. Thus it is recommended to select areas for rubber cultivation along given ecological parameters, to limit the distribution to a mosaic pattern, to limit the total area to be planted in relation to the agricultural land and to existing forest available at village or at district level. A combination with agro-forestry and sedentary farming practises is strongly recommended in order to minimize the economic risk for the villagers and to guarantee food security. Generally, to secure the green natural resources, only a very limited area can be replaced by rubber. . The processing of latex is environmentally harmful, water contamination is especially dangerous and the smoking of rubber sheets will require a constant production of fuel wood, which has to be monitored. . The legal aspects have not been regarded: contracts are legally not binding, as none of them has got the necessary approval by the Court of Justice for contracts. . Socio-economic implications result from the need to start the tapping during the night so that the collection of the latex is completed in the early morning hours. This demand for labour implies that one family can only manage up to tree hectares of rubber. Thus the factor labour as well limits rubber plantations. In combination with legal aspects the allocation of land titles to the farmers is crucial, otherwise no long-term investment, neither in agro-forestry and soil fertility, nor in tree plantations is attractive. . Contrary to the enthusiasm regarding the introduction of para rubber as the replacement for shifting cultivation and, consequently, the solution of poverty, this study guides to a cautious promotion of para rubber as one of many elements of rural development. For this purpose, activities like education, research and extension, land allocation with titles, legalisation of contracts on rubber cultivation have to be started. .

Uploaded on: Jan 2008
File size: 2.3 MB - Language: English
Keyword(s): Rural Development
Category: Society