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Making Rubber Cultivation more Lucrative

Indigenous farmers in West Kalimantan are to receive technical training at Farmer Field Schools to improve the quality of locally produced rubber in an effort to generate added value from rubber cultivation. The current value chain structure fails to differentiate quality and hence provides no incentive to increase the quality of crumb rubber sold to middlemen and local traders. Direct access to factories or buyers could change all that.

The idea behind the scheme is that if rubber cultivation is more lucrative, local communities will be less likely to give up their land for corporation-driven plantation expansion.

Rubber is the main income-generating commodity for many local farmers in West Kalimantan and an important alternative to large-scale oil palm plantations.

In 2009 and 2010, as part of the project “Mobilizing markets in support of community agroforestry in West Kalimantan”, financed by Oxfam Novib and Cordaid, Aidenvironment identified opportunities for adding value to rubber cultivation to motivate local farmers not to give up their land.

Since November 2011 Aidenvironment has been assisting the NGOs Lembaga Gemawan, Yayasan Keling Kumang (linked to a local Credit Union) and Serikat Tani Serumpun Damai in strengthening the production, post-harvest processing and trade capacities of rubber farmers in West Kalimantan. The project is funded by Cordaid and receives additional technical support from SwissContact.

In December the project team members followed an interactive training on rubber processing to identify rubber products that can be processed on a small scale. A potential buyer for Air Dried Sheets has already been found, and price negotiations are to continue in January 2012.

For more information contact Jan Willem Molenaar.