PRODUCTION SYSTEMS TO MINIMIZE THE COST OF LATEX HARVESTING
Rubber tree cultivation is faced with the problem of excessive cost of latex harvesting related to tapping labor which is rare, low-skilled and unstable. One way to solve this problem is to use production systems that minimize the cost of latex harvesting, characterized by a reduction in tapping intensity and compensated by an increase in hormonal stimulation. To this end, a study was conducted for nine years on production systems that minimize the cost of latex harvesting in southwestern Côte d'Ivoire with clones IRCA 130, GT 1 and PB 217 of Hevea brasiliensis. These production systems characterized by low tapping frequencies (d4, d5 and d6) and compensated by an increase in stimulation in compared to the standard d3 tapping. The results showed that production systems that minimize the cost of latex harvesting admittedly resulted in losses of rubber yield per hectare by 1 to 37%, but improved the yield per tree and tapping as well as the productivity of the tapper by 20 to 46%. Moreover, these systems contributed to the improvement of the vegetative growth of trees and kept the rate of dry trees in low level (less than 7%). Furthermore, they also helped to reduce the cost of tapping labor by 1 to 50%, as well as operating costs by 2 to 47% compared to the standard d3 tapping. Finally, in the context of a shortage of tapping labor, these systems help increase the farmer’s profit margin from 26% to 113%, as well as the tapper’s income from 26% to 89%. They thus appear as a solution to solve the problem of latex harvesting cost and unavailability of tappers in rubber cultivation.
Keywords: Côte d'Ivoire, cost of harvesting, Hevea brasiliensis, latex harvesting system, profit margin, radial vegetative, reduced tapping frequency, stimulation, rubber production, growth, tapping panel dryness, tapping labor