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Income diversification for rubber farmers through agro-forestry practices: how to overcome rubber prices volatility in Phatthalung province, Thailand

Stroesser L., Penot E., Michel I., Tongkaemkaew U., Chambon B.. 2016. In : CRRI and IRRDB International Rubber Conference 2016, Siem Reap, Cambodia. Siem Reap : CRRI; IRRDB, p. 76-97. International Rubber Conference, 2016-11-21/2016-11-25, Siem Reap (Cambodge).

DOI: 10.18167/DVN1/BDKF4P

This study was conducted in the frame of the ANR/Heveadapt project, in southern Thailand (Phatthalung province), to analyse how smallholders' tree plantations can adapt and remain sustainable while facing variable climatic conditions, and deep changes in their socio-economic context. The study focus on rubber-based agro-forestry systems developed in mature plantations in order to understand the extent to which rubber, associated crops, trees, livestock, and off-farm activities, respectively contribute to income stability and resilience. The analysis was mainly based on evaluation of socio-economic performances at two scales: the cropping system and the farming system using farming system modeling with the software Olympe. The characterization of farm economic structure shed light on two main strategies used by farmers to sustain their income while facing rubber price volatility. The best agro-forestry system, both in terms of land valorization and labor valorization, seems to be associating rubber trees with fruit trees and timber trees. Farmers also undertake off-farm activities in order to complement their family income. Those two strategies can be combined in different ways. Prospective modeling showed that most farms were more robust to rubber price volatility, due to the flexibility of their agro-forestry systems. Farmers, who did not have agro-forestry systems, were weakened by over-reliance on rubber trees.

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