NAKHON SI THAMMARAT, Sept 7 – Rubber growers in 10 southern provinces have announced that they will demonstrate again next Saturday to protest the government’s refusal to pledge rubber price at Bt95/kg.
Negotiation between high-level officials led by Deputy Prime Minister Pracha Promnok and farmer representatives was deadlocked yesterday after the government agreed to guarantee rubber price at Bt90/kg. The farmers did not accept the government offer but demanded Bt95/kg.
The farmers said they had lowered their earlier demand for Bt100/kg to Bt95/kg but the government turned down their offer.
They said rubber growers in 10 southern provinces would resume their protest next weekend with a demand for pledging the rubber price at Bt100/kg and they would now not negotiate with any government representative but Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra herself.
Varathep Rattanakorn, minister of the PM’s Office and deputy agriculture minister, said the farmers’ demand for Bt100 per kilogramme of rubber was impossible but the government would offer other assistance measures.
Deputy Prime Minister/Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong ruled out the demand for Bt100/kg and said it would more practical to fix the price at Bt90/kg.
He said the government would need time to review the issue and find measures to help rubber farmers, adding that farmers in all regions, other than the South, were waiting for the government’s offering financial aid at Bt1,260/rai of rubber plantation to farmers.
Amnuay Yuthitham, a farmer leader in Nakhon Si Thammarat, stood firm on the pledging price of Bt100/kg and said subsidy to farmers should be paid in three installments from September 1 to March 31.
“Farmers involved in legal disputes and injured during the protests must be given assistance by the government,” he said.
Mr Amnuay said the government was insincere in solving the problem of falling rubber price despite the farmers’ agreement to back down their demand for guaranteed rubber price from Bt120/kg to Bt95/kg.
The government instead claimed that farmers agreed with the price at Bt90/kg and made a phone call to the demonstrators at Kuan Nong Hong, Nakhon Si Thammarat, lying that an agreement was reached, he claimed.
Protesting farmers at Kuan Nong Kong in Nakhon Si Thammarat called off their demonstration yesterday evening.
“The negotiation failed and a demonstration will be staged again at Tha Sala district office, Nakhon Si Thammarat, next Saturday. We will demand a rubber price Bt100/kg this time,” said Mr Amnuay.