Rubber farmers to get monetary aid
Road repairs to help soak up latex demand
The Natural Rubber Policy Committee has approved a financial package aimed at assisting rubber farmers and stemming the tumbling price of rubber.
Speaking after the committee's meeting Thursday, Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Grisada Boonrach said the first measure will help rubber farmers troubled by the depressed prices of rubber.
Under the measure, those registered with the Rubber Authority of Thailand (RAOT) will be entitled to a grant of 1,800 baht per rai, not exceeding 15 rai each, he said, adding that the measure is intended to help farmers offset the cost of living.
The sum will be divided into 1,100 baht per rai each for rubber plantation owners and 700 baht per rai each for the tappers.
The Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) and the RAOT will be responsible for providing a 17.5-billion-baht budget to support the scheme.
According to the minister, 999,065 rubber farm owners and 304,266 tappers are eligible for the scheme, which covers 9.4 million rai of rubber farm land.
The second measure concerns the construction of roads using asphalt mixed with rubber latex.
Roads which are set to be repaired in 75,032 villages across the country will have to use such a mixture.
According to Mr Grisada, 92.3 billion baht would be budgeted by local administrative organisations to fund this scheme.
The amount consists of 16.3 billion baht in latex cost, 75.9 billion baht in construction expenses as well as 38 billion baht in project management costs.
The project will be carried out from December to September and is expected to use 1.44 million tonnes of fresh latex and 720,320 tonnes of concentrated latex.
"Tambon administrative organisations will be required to use the latex-asphalt mix to build a minimum of one kilometre of road," said Mr Grisada.
"In fact villages are expected to apply the mix to road construction for longer distances," he added.
According to the minister, the measure is expected to quickly reduce the supply of rubber, which is now overstocked.
The ministry would not rush local administrative bodies to proceed with the project, which is financed by the state budget for disbursal in the next fiscal year starting October, said Mr Grisada.
He said several provinces have started to proceed with the scheme.
More than 40 provinces are also interested in pursuing the project.
Also, a credit line of 5 billion baht will be extended to support rubber processing for export, he said.
The BAAC will provide loans with an annual interest rate of 4% for processing.
Of that, the farmer groups pay 0.01%, with the rest of the costs to be shouldered by the government.
A measure is also being prepared to reduce rubber farming areas, particularly areas with ageing rubber trees.
Government policymakers say that with fewer farms and a smaller supply of rubber, prices are expected to rise.