An Economic Analysis of the Socio-Economic Dimensions of

An Economic Analysis of the Socio-Economic Dimensions of Participatory Experimental Trials on Low Frequency Tapping (LFT) in Kerala Authors : Binni Ch...

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An Economic Analysis of the Socio-Economic Dimensions of Participatory Experimental Trials on Low Frequency Tapping (LFT) in Kerala

Authors : Binni Chandy, K.U. Thomas, S. Veeraputhran, Siju, T. Division of Economics Rubber Research Institute of India Rubber Board (Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India) Kottayam, Kerala- 686009, India

Technological innovations in crop exploitation systems of natural rubber (NR) are conceived to: Increase the land and labour (tapper) productivity (Nayagam, et al., 1993; Vijayakumar et al., 2002)

Enhance the economic life of the trees (Vijayakumar, et al., 2000) and

Reduce cost of exploitation (harvesting) An important strategy to achieve these objectives is Low Intensity Tapping Systems

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• LFT with judicious application of stimulation enhance productivity and reduce labour input (Sivakumaran and Hashim, 1985; Gohet et al., 1991; Zarin et al., 1991)

• Uncertain NR prices • Increasing cost of production • Shortage of skilled tappers

Underlined the significance of LFT with stimulation in Kerala

• RRII initiated experiments focused on LFT during the late 1980s • Extent of adoption of LFT is very low, especially among the smallholders

To popularise the practice of LFT LHT Division of RRII introduced a Participatory Approach & Demonstration plots with S/2 d3 tapping system with ethephon stimulation established in rubber smallholdings, in 2009 Technical support was given and progress monitored

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Objectives • To understand the socio-economic profile of the participating smallholdings; and • To identify the contributory factors/ barriers for the adoption of LFT Database •

Sample survey covering 48 participating rubber small growers and the tappers attached to the demonstration plots in different regions in Kerala

Profile of the sample holdings Number of demonstration plots covered

48

Average area of demonstration plots (rubber+others)

3.80 ha

Average area under rubber

2.74 ha

Average area of mature rubber

1.82 ha

Average number of rubber trees/ha

348

Growers with agriculture as only source of income (%)

33.33

Growers with income from other sources (%)

66.67

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• The average size of holdings of the sample growers was 3.80 ha • The average size of rubber area of the sample holdings is higher (2.74 ha) compared to the average size of rubber holdings in Kerala (0.50 ha), indicating that holding size is an important factor prompting the adoption of LFT

• Among the sample holdings 33 per cent had rubber as their only source of income whereas 67 per cent had other sources of income Other sources of income and the resultant higher dependence on hired labour have a strong bearing on the adoption of new labour saving techniques

Profile of demonstration plots Average area of demonstration plots

0.89 ha

Average number of trees in demonstration plots

339/ha

Average age of trees (years of tapping)

7

Percentage of demonstration plots employing hired labour for tapping (%)

68.75

Percentage of demonstration plots using family labour for tapping (%)

27.08

Percentage of demonstration plots using both hired and family labour for tapping (%)

4.17

Percentage of demonstration plots with RRII 105 (%)

100

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• The average size of demonstration plots is 0.89 ha which is higher than the average size of rubber area for the smallholdings (0.50 ha) • The average density of 339 trees/ha • The average age of trees in the demonstration plots is 7 years of tapping – fields with comparatively younger trees were included to enhance the economic life of trees as production period can be extended further by 4 years under S/2 d3 tapping system at the basal panel

• Dependence on hired labour was higher (69 %) in demonstration plots compared to the use of family labour for tapping (27%)

Profile of demonstration plots based on labour utilisation Hired labour

Family labour

Average area under possession (ha) (rubber+others)

4.45

2.42

Average rubber area (ha)

3.30

1.53

Average mature area (ha)

2.24

0.92

Average mature trees/ha

337

395

Average area under demonstration plots (ha)

0.91

0.47

Average no of trees/ha under demonstration plots

394

421

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Differences in the features of demonstration plots using hired and family labour for tapping Hired labour

Family labour

Average size of holding (4.45 ha) and average rubber area (3.30 ha)

Average size of holding (2.42 ha) and average rubber area (1.53 ha)

Mean area under mature rubber (2.24 ha) and area under demonstration plot (0.91 ha)

Mean area under mature rubber (0.92 ha) and area under demonstration plot (0.47 ha)

Density of planting in mature rubber (337 trees/ha) and in demonstration plot (394 trees/ha)

Density of planting in mature rubber (395 trees/ha) and in demonstration plot (421 trees/ha)

• Average holding size (4.45 ha), average size of rubber area (3.30 ha) and average size of demonstration plot (0.91 ha) are higher for the growers dependent on hired labour Indicating that size of holding is a key factor facilitating the adoption of LFT for those depending on hired labour In the smaller holdings availability of family labour is found to be an important condition for the adoption of LFT

Density of planting in mature rubber (395 trees/ha) and in demonstration plot (421 trees/ha) higher for growers depending on family labour compared to those using hired labour There is an inverse relationship between the size of holding and density of planting which is in tune with the general trend

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With decline in the number of tapping days by the adoption of S/2 d3 tapping, tappers resorted to multiple grower dependence



Resistance from the part of tappers for the adoption of S/2 d3 tapping was observed only in few cases where the holding size and trees available for tapping was small



Reasons for resistance from tappers were (i) loss of tapping days and (ii) increase in work load due to higher yield from unit area



Growers overcome the resistance (i) by adopting self tapping (ii) by assuring tapping in other growers’ plots and (iii) by offering incentives for extra production

• All the growers who completed one year under the scheme reported satisfaction on LFT system • Due to the demonstration effect, few other growers started S/2 d3 tapping system with stimulation and few growers in the scheme extended S/2 d3 tapping to other plots also

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Conclusion • Scale neutrality of LFT remain suspect in the unique context of Kerala with smaller size of holding and higher dependence on hired labour • There exists a positive relationship between adoption of low frequency tapping system and size of holdings • Availability of family labour is a key factor influencing the adoption of low frequency tapping in smaller size groups with less than 1 ha area • Institutional arrangements to overcome the in-built deficiencies of size and rigidities of the labour market are crucial for the effective implementation of LFT from a long-term perspective

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