Harper Adams University is working in collaboration with Kasetsart University Thailand in this Newton Fund Institutional Links Grants project. The project will investigate how to improve the economic sustainability of small-scale rubber farms, to increase resilience against volatility in rubber prices.
Thailand is the world’s largest natural rubber producer and exporter. Nearly 3.5 million hectares are planted with natural rubber in Thailand and of the 1.1 million Thai rubber growers, 79% are small-scale farmers with landholdings below 2.4 hectare. The monthly income of Thai rubber growers averaged 9,236 THB (£215) per month in 2015, but some 40,000 rubber growers face poverty with a monthly income of only 2,341THB (£54, poverty line defined as 2,667 THB or £62, NESDB 2015).
The major threat to livelihood derives from rubber price volatility on world markets. When the price of rubber is low income declines, partly because a large majority of farmers have not adopted on-farm practices to minimise this risk. For example, whilst research has demonstrated the economic benefits of tree-crop diversification (intercropping), nearly 90% of Thai rubber plantations are still monocropped.
The project will be carried out in 4 stages (from January 2019 to January 2020):
British Council Newton Fund Institutional Links Grants (414705735 Lowenberg-DeBoer THA)
Harper Adams University
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