Additional B5bn loans for rubber farmers
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Additional B5bn loans for rubber farmers

Gen Prayut looks at a Gros Michel banana tree in Mr Visut's farm during his visit to Surat Thani on Monday. (Photo by Supapong Chaolan)
Gen Prayut looks at a Gros Michel banana tree in Mr Visut's farm during his visit to Surat Thani on Monday. (Photo by Supapong Chaolan)

The Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives will lend another 5 billion baht to rubber farmers seeking to do extra jobs during the ongoing price slump.

The bank's board earlier approved 10 billion baht in soft loans to help rubber farmers and upgrade the rubber production industry for the 2015/16 crop year.

The additional funds will go to increasing production efficiency of planters and help them start a new job in the wake of the global rubber price slump.

It is also aimed at reducing labour shortages in the farm sector.

World rubber prices sank 20% in the first 11 months of this year, according to Commerce Ministry data.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was in Surat Thani on Monday to hand over compensation to rubber planters there under the Nov 3 cabinet resolution.

The 12.75-billion-baht relief was intended to ease their troubles and upgrade productivity, as well as to help tappers cope with the cost of living.

Luck Wajanawat, president of the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperative, said the aid, aimed at helping planters with title deeds, gives 1,500 baht a rai to planters or renters and tappers, at the 60:40 ratio.

The money will be given to 850,000 rubber-planting households with no more than 15 rai of tapped rubber trees. Those with more than 15 rai of tapped trees are eligible up 15 rai only.

Owner or renters of the plantations will get 900 baht a rai - 700 baht to improve production efficiencies and 200 to upgrade quality. Tappers will get 600 baht a rai to help with their cost of living but not more than 15 rai for each household.

During his trip to Surat Thani, Gen Prayut visited the rubber plantation of Visut Kantaraksa, 46, in Ban Na Doem district

Mr Visut is a shining example of farmers who adapted themselves by growing other crops during the difficult time.

He started by growing 1,000 Gros Michel banana trees between rubber trees on three rai at a cost of 48,000 baht.

Eight months later, Mr Visut sold the first harvest for 160,000 baht compared to 300,000 baht he gets from 30 rai of rubber trees in a year.

"I decided to fell rubber trees on seven rai and grew 400 banana trees on each rai. I now have more than 4,000 banana trees which I can harvest every week. I sell them to a cooperative and earn 50,000 a month on average" he said.

Mr Visut, a Mathayom 3 or Grade 9 graduate, said he learned how to grow and take care of banana trees from some books and the internet.

Nuntawat Kaew-umdee of the Surat Thani Cooperative also said farmers had grouped together to export 17 tonnes of bananas to Japan under the cooperative name each month, adding demand was up to 60 tonnes. 

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