Economic Botany

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 136–147 | Cite as

Smallholder rubber and swidden agriculture in Borneo: A sustainable adaptation to the ecology and economy of the tropical forest

  • Michael R. Dove


This is a study of the role of Para rubber cultivation in a system of swidden agriculture in Indonesian Borneo. Such smallholdings produce most of Indonesia’s rubber, which is the country’s largest agricultural generator of foreign exchange. Rubber integrates well into Bornean systems of swidden agriculture: the comparative ecology and economy of Para rubber and upland swidden rice result in minimal competition in the use of land and labor — and even in mutual enhancement — between the two systems. Rubber occupies a distinct niche in the farm economy: it meets the need for market goods, while the swiddens meet subsistence needs. The intensity of production on these smallholdings is, as a result, characteristically low (and may even vary inversely with market prices). This reflects the independence of these smallholders from external economic and political influences, which has been the key to their historical success. The special virtues of such “composite systems” merit greater attention by development planners.

Key Words

rubber smallholder swidden agriculture Kalimantan or Borneo Indonesia Hevea brasiliensis 

Karet Rakyat dan Sistem Perladangan di Kalimantan: Suatu Adaptasi Yang Baik Terhadap Ekologi dan Ekonomi Hutan Tropika


Penilitian ini mempelajari peranan karet rakyat sebagai pasangan bagi sistem perladangan di Kalimantan-Indonesia. Perkebunan karet rakyat merupakan penghasil utama karet Indonesia, yang merupakan penyumbang pertanian terbesar bagi devisa negara. Karet rakyat membaur dengan baik dalam sistem perladangan di Kalimantan: pembandingan ekologi dan ekonomi antara karet rakyat dan sistem perladangan menunjukkan persaingan yang minimum dalam pemakaian lahan dan tenaga kerja—dan bahkan saling menguntungkan—antara kedua sistem tersebut. Karet rakyat menempati kedudukan yang penting dalam ekonomi usaha para peladang: yaitu memenuhi kebutuhan barang-barang pasar, sedangkan sistem perladangan memenuhi kebutuhan pokok hidup. Intensitas produksi perkebunan karet rakyat oleh karena itu, brasanya agak rendah (yang kadang-kadang berbeda berbalikan dengan harga pasar). Hal ini menggambarkan ketidak-bergantungan petani karet pada pengaruh-pengaruh ekonomi dan politik dari luar, dan ini merupakan kunci sukses mereka. Hal-hal khususyang menguntungkan dari sistem terpadu inipatut mendapatkanperhatian yang lebih besar dari perencana-perencana pembangunan.


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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael R. Dove
    • 1
  1. 1.East-West CenterHonolulu

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