Farmers in the natural rubber sub-sector in the country have been charged to plant more economic crops between their trees to enhance economic growth.
An expert in the rubber industry posits that since the gestation period for trees usually took years before harvest, planting other economic crops would improve the economic status of the farmer.
Dr. Suleiman Idoko of the Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria (RRIN) disclosed that rubber entrepreneurs could either lease the spaces to other farmers or utilize the spaces themselves to plant other crops that yield within a year.
Idoko listed other crops that can grow under other tree shades to include melon, cassava, pears, okra, vegetables, or other lowly growing or crawling crops.
He spoke on agro-forestry and maximization of the rubber value chain during an event in Benin City, saying utilizing those spaces would prevent weeds from taking over the rubber plantations, as well as reduce poverty.
“Inter-cropping can save spaces, maximize income, reduce unemployment and poverty. Rubber farmers should not allow their lands to remaining fallow for seven or more years when the trees would begin to mature. Within these years, the farmers would have made good money from yams, cassava, maize, bitter-leaf, waterleaf, and other smaller crops from those spaces between the trees,” he said.