More buying, loans to appease rubber planters

More buying, loans to appease rubber planters

The government has announced four more short-term measures to arrest plummeting rubber prices ahead of a planned protest by farmers on Tuesday.

Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Amnuay Patise said on Monday the new measures would bring the total number of solutions to help farmers to 16, costing 58 billion baht in total.

First, a cash subsidy of 1,000 baht per household with no more than 15 rai will continue.

Second, the existing rubber buffer fund, with outstanding amount of 20 billion baht, will buy rubber products worth 6 billion baht at a time for exports and price support. To date, only 200 million baht has been spent to buy smoked sheets. Raw rubber sheets will also be bought from cooperatives at market-leading prices of 0.50 to one baht a kg, he said.

Third, credit worth 100,000 baht will be extended so each planter can invest in a side-line job without having to turn to loan sharks.

Fourth, the 1999 Rubber Control Act will be used to make sure all stakeholders are being treated fairly. Product standards will also be upgraded and cooperation with neighbouring countries sought.

Deputy Prime Minister MR Pridiyathorn Devakula also said on Monday the government was pushing the three major buyer groups - cooperatives, Rubber Estate Organisation and latex buyers - to help farmers.

"The government is doing its best to help but the complex process slows the efforts. Cooperatives have started buying since October while the Rubber Estate Organisation has done its part only 10 days ago due to the complicated approval process.

"However, the price will unlikely be 80 baht a kg as demanded by farmers as the purchases will have to be made slowly."

At least 200 rubber planters from four districts of Surat Thani province plan a major rally in front of the city hall on Tuesday to press the government to raise rubber prices to at least 80 baht a kg for rubber sheets. 

They on Sunday also issued a second open letter to Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, calling for government intervention by providing subsidies to raise the price paid for rubber.

The planters demanded at least 30 baht per kilogramme for rubber scraps, 70 baht for latex and 80 baht for rubber sheets.

The price of raw rubber sheets rose 1.35 baht to 45 baht a kilogramme at 4pm on Monday while that of No. 3 rubber ribbed smoked sheets climbed one baht to 51 baht a kg. 

In line with world oil prices, the price of local raw rubber sheets have slid to less than 45 baht a kg this year from more than 195 baht in 2010. 

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