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Performance of different latex harvesting systems to increase the labor productivity of rubber plantations in Thailand

Lacote R., Sainoi T., Sdoodee S., Rawiwan C., Rongthong P., Kasemsap P., Chehsoh J., Chantuma P., Gohet E.. 2019. Nay Pyi Taw : IRRDB, 19 p.. International Rubber Conference 2019, IRRDB, 2019-09-30/2019-10-01, Nay Pyi Taw (Myanmar).

Yield gaps between rubber smallholdings and rubber agro-industries often exist. These gaps are usually important regarding land productivity (kg/ha) but even more important regarding labor productivity (kg/tapper/day). However, technical packages of GAP (good agricultural practices) are available from decades of research in breeding, physiology, agronomy, crop protection and latex harvesting technology. Regarding latex harvesting, the differences between agro-industries and smallholdings are very often even more important than for other disciplines. Reduced tapping frequencies compensated by accurate stimulation intensities or controlled upward tapping are scarcely encountered in smallholdings. Other quality standards are also often less respected, mainly regarding bark consumption, bark wounding and homogenous panel management. In Thailand, smallholders own 85% of the total rubber area. In the southern and eastern regions of the country, climate conditions with heavy rains during the rainy season, associated with rubber price fluctuation, lead farmers to use high frequency tapping systems (S/3 d1 2d/3 or S/3 d1 3d/4 mainly) in order to compensate the reduction of the number of tapping days due to rains. Labor shortage is also a new and increasing issue for farmers who hire tappers. To improve labor productivity in each farm and address the increasing labor shortage, one way might be to reduce the time spent by tappers in the field, using low frequency tapping systems (LFT). LFT systems combine reduction of tapping frequency with Ethephon stimulation. Under accurate stimulation, yield significantly improves at each tapping, leading to a higher labor productivity (g/t/t and kg/tapper/day) and this can at least partly compensate the effect of the reduction of the tapping frequency on production. The objectives of this publication are (i) to assess the efficiency of different LFT systems with Ethephon stimulation on yield, labor productivity and latex physiological parameters and (ii) to select among those systems the ones showing an improved efficiency regarding labor productivity, in order to test them on farm.

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