Intercropping during the unproductive immature stage of rubber provides one means of addressing the gap in income suffered by smallholders after replanting or new planting of rubber. A survey of smallholder rubber plantations was undertaken to determine the current status of intercropping in Sri Lanka. A total of 587 smallholders were included in the survey that encompassed the four major rubber growing regions; Kalutura, Kegalle, Colombo and Rathnapura. Intercropping was practised on relatively few farms, with the percentage of smallholders engaged in intercropping ranging from 23 to 54%. Banana was the most common companion crop of rubber with a current extension recommendation for a single row of banana planted between rubber rows. A financial appraisal, based on data from an agronomic experiment, revealed the potential to raise profits by more than 350% if planting density of banana was increased threefold over current recommendations. Profitability of banana intercrops was governed by four major components; yield expected in the third year, fertiliser costs, labour costs and market value of banana fruit. The influence of planting density of banana on each component is discussed. The survey indicated that most farmers grew banana without chemical fertiliser. If high density banana intercropping is to be widely adopted as a means of raising income on immature rubber lands, then current recommendations for chemical inputs need to be addressed in order to bring initial costs down to a sustainable level for smallholders.
Rodrigo, V.H.L.; Stirlng, C.M.; Naranpanawa, R.M.A.K.B.; Herath, P.H.M.U. Intercropping of immature rubber in Sri Lanka: present status and financial analysis of intercrops planted at three densities of banana. Agroforestry Systems (2001) 51 (1) 35-48. [DOI: 10.1023/A:1006449230436]