This paper describes a rather unique agroforestry approach of integrating animals (sheep, poultry and bees) in smallholder rubber plantations. The approach is based on the existence of surplus family labour, utilization of interspaces between the rows of rubber, availability of cheap and nutritious animal feed and presence of favourable microclimate for animal growth under rubber. Results of trials carried out by the Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia since the 1970's are presented.
Rotational system of broiler production under rubber was found to be technically, socially and economically feasible, providing a net return on family labour of M$370–M$825 per consignment of rearing 500 birds. Sheep rearing under rubber also appeared to be very attractive and practical; apart from producing meat for sale it also served as a ‘biological weed control’ measure. Cost of controlling the weeds commonly found under rubber plantations could be reduced by about 21% over the usual method by using sheep grazing for weed control. The Internal Rate of Return (IRR) from sheep rearing can be as high as 44%. Details of operation and management aspects of sheep integration under rubber are given.
Bees kept under rubber feed on nectar produced by inflorescence and tips of young rubber shoots and also on flowers of intercrops and weeds. TheApis cerana species was found to be suitable producing about 3 kg of honey per colony per harvest.
KeywordsWeed Control Rotational System Internal Rate Rubber Plantation Sheep Grazing
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