Readers React

On Rubber and Swidden Cultivation in Kalimantan, Borneo (see index).

I think these types of stories of combination/risk minimization or maximum return strategies are extremely interesting and very worthwhile to disseminate. The agroforestry aspect and low environmental impact of this scheme is particularly nice.

There is a similar (sort of) example of complementary labour demands and production success between cash crops and subsistence farming in Yucatan, Mexico. There the Mayan Indians often have a fairly large investment in beekeeping. The hives are kept on (usually) common ajido land. The milpa, or subsistence plot is an example of swidden agriculture that is used to grow corn and beans, and some secondary crops.

The common strategy works well because the labour demands for beekeeping (carrying water in the dry season to the hives and harvesting honey after the floration of the main trees) usually comes at times of minimum labour demands for the milpa (clearing, planting, weeding and harvesting). Additionally, the trees used for nectar and pollen collection by the bees are usually less or differentially affected by drought than the milpa crops and provide a cash substitute for otherwise bad years.

Jonathan SandsBR> Orford, NH, U.S.A.