Incensed by what they see as double standards by the government favouring rice farmers, protesting rubber growers have turned to a campaign of civil disobedience by blocking roads, rail tracks and threatening to seize Surat Thani airport.
By doing so they have caused massive inconvenience to the general public, whose support they need, and undermined their own cause. Taxpayer subsidies have reached their limit and while localised outbreaks of violence might embarrass the government, they cannot influence prices in global commodity markets.
By contrast, maize and dairy farmers, along with taxi drivers, have also been vocal about their grievances but have not resorted to such selfish and self-defeating tactics. In an age of continually fluctuating commodity prices, it is the sugar industry that stands out as the one whose farmers are least likely to take to the streets, even though the sector is beset by problems. Prices have dropped 40% since reaching a three-decade high in 2011 as growers from Brazil to Australia raised output. At least Thai exporters have been helped by the 4.3% drop in the baht in recent months.
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