Agroforestry is a system of mixed farming involving the production of tree crops alongside other horticultural or agricultural crops, sometimes with livestock. In tropical landscapes, common tree crops found in agroforestry systems include coffee, cocoa, fruit trees, and Hevea brasiliensis – the tree from which natural rubber is derived.
This pamphlet summarizes the findings from a comprehensive, peer-reviewed report which analyzed rubber agroforestry systems compared with rubber monoculture plantations (farms where rubber trees are grown as the sole crop). The report, authored by a team of expert academics, and published by Mighty Earth in May 2021, considers the comparative benefits and disadvantages of both agroforestry and monoculture rubber systems with regards to rural livelihoods and food security, on-farm biodiversity, climate resilience, and the position of women and underrepresented groups in the rural economy.
All of these factors are especially important to consider given the current and future challenges facing rubber producers, processors and buyers. Climate change, rubber tree disease outbreaks, and a temporary slump in demand due to COVID-19 have placed even more pressure on an already unsustainable rubber industry.