A case study is used to illustrate the agronomic and socioeconomic complexity of smallholder cropping systems in Sri Lanka and how rubber, and in particular the intercropping of immature rubber, has contributed to improving rural livelihoods through raising household income and capital assets. Smallholder cropping systems are extremely diverse and what appeared initially as random planting was seen to be anything but, with planting arrangements based on a thorough knowledge of local soil and microclimate conditions, as well as on the specific needs of the household. The potential benefits of intercropping immature rubber are discussed and the authors show how the more liberal attitude towards intercropping within the rubber extension service has impacted positively on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. A cash flow was constructed for the household, indicating that over two-thirds of annual household income was derived from onfarm activities, with 70% of this from intercropping on immature rubber land. The benefits of rubber intercropping to income generation, land tenure and upkeep of immature rubber lands are discussed within the context not only of the smallholder, but also in terms of the estate sector.
Rodrigo, V.H.L.; Thenakoon, S.; Stirling, C.M. Priorities and objectives of smallholder rubber growers and the contribution of intercropping to livelihood strategies: a case study from Sri Lanka. Outlook On Agriculture (2001) 30 (4) 261-266. [DOI: 10.5367/000000001101293751]