Instructional Strategy of Cluster Model in Inclusive Education
(Preliminary Study on Cluster Model of Inclusive Education)
The trend of shifting end markets in global value chains is also clearly
visible in the reconfiuration of rubber value chains originating in Southeast Asia.
Within the Greater Mekong Subregion Laos and Cambodia are actively seeking
to become major suppliers for the Chinese market. The rubber boom in Laos
has been associated with two related negative phenomena: 1) vulnerable
livelihoods as a result of contract farming and 2) destruction of the natural
environment due to large scale plantations. Henceforth, there is a need to focus
more on smallholders and emerging value chains in areas where selling latex is
relatively new. This paper analyses emerging rubber smallholder activity in
central Laos and investigates to what extent rural communities can benefi from
the rubber boom and improve their livelihoods. This is done through a case
study of Somsanouk village, located between Vientiane and the tourist spot
Vang Vieng. Researchers and non-governmental organisations have focused on
southern and northern parts of the country, yet the substantial increase of small
and large scale plantations in central Laos warrants a comparative perspective
and deeper insights into geographical differentiation of rubber value chains.
A survey was conducted in July 2013 among 19 Lao Soung, mostly ethnic Hmong,
20 Lao Loum and 1 other (Tai Deng) smallholders and discussions were held
with the village chief (Lao Loum) and deputy village chief (Lao Soung).
The survey was carried out with the assistance of an interpreter and the Lao
Loum village chief. The latter voluntarily offered to help and did not ask for any
compensation for his efforts. He was also interested in the rubber situation in
his village. This chief was also able to translate answers from the ethnic Hmong
community to the interpreter.
The survey revealed that Ban Somsanouk is increasingly being inserted
into international rubber value chains, focusing on China. The lead fims are three
domestic and one Chinese investment fims that stimulate farmers to embark
upon the cultivation of rubber trees and that support them in their cultivation.
In return, they expect 35% of the revenues. The most remarkable result of this
upstream value chain is the village-wide selling process to the highest bidder.
Smallholders are not bound to sell dried latex to their investors. This is
markedly different from the more common 2+3 arrangement. Although
Ban Somsanouk is much closer to Thailand than to China, this study shows that
central Laos is more inflenced by and connected to China in terms of rubber
cultivation. The rubber smallholders of Ban Somsanouk generally have a positive
attitude towards their new undertaking. Many consider the cultivation of rubber
to be instrumental in expanding household income and securing a future for
their children. Overall, this paper offers a cautiously positive view of changing
rural livelihoods in a new rubber growing area, but it remains imperative that
foreign direct investment in the rubber industry and other agribusinesses in Laos
and Cambodia such as sugarcane should be carefully monitored by central
governments, local and foreign NGOs. The paper ends with policy implications
related to producer-buyer relationships, intercropping, micro-fiance and Asian
rubber chain governance.
Keywords: Natural rubber, smallholders, pluriactivity, Laos, Asian value chains,
livelihood trajectory, transnational actors