Rural livelihood and rubber cultivation in Eastern province of Sri Lanka

V. H. L. Rodrigo, S. M. M. Iqbal, E. S. Munasinghe
2009 Journal of the Rubber Research Institute of Sri Lanka  
With no sufficient land available for further cultivation of rubber in its traditionally grown wet areas to meet the increasing demand, the Government of Sri Lanka has targeted moderately dry areas of the country for the same. In collaboration with the peasant community, rubber is to be grown under rain fed condition together with traditional crops in these regions. Being a perennial crop which provides a long term source of income, an upliftment of rural livelihood is also expected in this
more » ... cise. Moreover, tree cover of the country is to be increased. In line with the country needs, rubber was established for the first time in the Intermediate zone of Eastern province with some farmers in a selected village. Since initial agronomic assessments were in favour of rubber cultivation in this region, a rapid livelihood analysis was carried out in the village to assess the association of this intervention with rural livelihood. Agricultural activities were confined to two seasons associated with a unimodel rainfall pattern. Strong socio-cultural interactions have made the rural livelihood rather sustainable. However, it operated at a low level in monitory terms with annual income and expenditure of a family in the range of Rs.55,000/=. Due to the dependency on seasonal crops, the income varied largely from month to month. Except for March -April and October -November, the income of the majority from agriculture was limited a value less than Rs.2,500 per month. Expenditure was mainly on subsistence and agriculture related activities and, generally below Rs.6,000 per household per month in most instances. Traditional New Year celebration in April and religious activities in May and June required an additional of ca. Rs.9,000. Demand for labour in rubber was year-round but not as high as for seasonal crops. There was a competition between rubber and other crops for labour at the beginning of Maha season (September to November), if rubber planting was undertaken. Farmers mostly planted rubber in an area of 0.2 to 0.4 ha in one occasion and also with traditional seasonal crops hence time allocation to rubber had no drastic impact on subsistence agriculture. Coping mechanisms of the society and the strategies to be placed in development programmes are also discussed.
doi:10.4038/jrrisl.v89i0.1848 fatcat:5o2xkglofjarxjb5lnrzuaryhu