Bali, Indonesia – Kopernik is progressing trials of a rainguard device, designed to protect natural rubber latex harvests and yields for farmers during the wet season.
The project follows research in Sanggau, West Kalimantan which identified rainfall as a key challenge for smallholders, particularly as it can spoil collected latex and even eliminate entire rubber harvests.
Farmers harvest the latex by making a diagonal incision in the tree with a small cup attached to the tree to collect the dripping latex, which is left to coagulate in the container before being collected.
Rubber is usually harvested every three days when the conditions are good. However, when the weather is wet, farmers are unable to harvest the latex as the water washes away the collected fluid.
The problem came to the attention of Kopernik, an agency founded in 2010 to bring life-changing and affordable technologies to combat poverty in remote and hard to reach parts of the world.
Based on tests during a 40-day harvest period in the rainy season – comparing the yield from 50 trees fitted with rainguards with that from 50 unprotected trees – Kopernik estimated that the device could increase harvests by up to 50%.
“We are currently conducting follow-up trials following positive results with the rainguard prototyping experiment, in West Kalimantan, reported Mochamad Dwi Ergianto, senior analyst, Solutions Lab, on the Kopernik project.
The new target “is to scale up the rubber rainguards usage as well as providing ‘good agricultural training’ for the rubber farmers,” the project official added in a 10 June written statement to ERJ.
With over 320,000 smallholder rubber farmers in West Kalimantan, and 2.2 million rubber farmers nationally, the product could to have a large impact on increasing the latex yield across Indonesia, believes Kopernik.