Rubber farm cut aimed to buoy price

Rubber farm cut aimed to buoy price

A rubber plantation in Soeng Sang district of Nakhon Ratchasima. PRASIT TANGPRASERT
A rubber plantation in Soeng Sang district of Nakhon Ratchasima. PRASIT TANGPRASERT

The government plans to reduce rubber plantation area this year as a continuation of its efforts to raise domestic rubber prices.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak told high-ranking officials from the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry Monday the ministry should try to reduce the rubber plantation area by another 200,000 rai a year over the next five years.

The government pledges to support 16,000 baht per rai, capped at 10 rai per family for farmers who join the scheme.

But eligible farmers have to grow their rubber trees on land for which they possess legitimate title deeds.

The scheme focuses on less suitable areas for growing rubber trees, such as rice farmland and low-lying areas.

The ministry wants to start the scheme by early next month, said Mr Somkid, adding that reducing rubber plantation area is part of ongoing agriculture reform efforts.

The ministry reported Monday to Mr Somkid that government efforts to encourage rubber farmers to grow other crops has seen rubber plantation area dip by 400,000 rai.

Despite the reduction, rubber prices have not improved.

Thailand's rubber plantation area is now estimated at 18-20 million rai.

In a related development, the ministry was Monday also told to cut rice farmland by 2 million rai for the 2018/2019 crop, as the farmland for off-season rice in the 2018/2019 season is expected to top 10.22 million rai.

The government will support 2,000 baht per rai for farmers who grow other crops instead of rice.

Mr Somkid said the ministry should also entice farmers to grow crops apart from maize and tapioca.

"Marketing plans are very important to reducing risk, and agriculture-related ministries are required to implement more effective marketing and production planning," he said.

Mr Somkid tasked the Agriculture Ministry and Commerce Ministry to hold talks on advanced production issues and appropriate buying prices with private sector players like the Thai Feed Mill Association.

He has also asked the Commerce Ministry to help bridge the gap between high fruit prices in Bangkok and other big cities but low income for farmers.

The ministry should implement better management for both the domestic and export markets, said Mr Somkid.

He also said the Bank of Thailand and the Securities and Exchange Commission should be asked to broaden efforts on supporting agricultural cooperatives.

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