Govt ready to help rubber farmers without market intervention

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BANGKOK, Oct 30 – The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry has reaffirmed that it will continue granting financial assistance to rubber farmers but refused to comply with their demand to pledge a guaranteed rubber price at Bt100 per kg.

Agriculture Minister Yukol Limlaemthong said the government has subsidised farmers’ production cost at Bt2,520 per rai ((0.4 acre) and Bt578 million has been granted to help 23,600 farmers.

Responding to the farmers’ demand that the government guarantee the price of rubber at Bt100/kg, he said said it would be impossible for the Agriculture Ministry to intervene in the marketing mechanism.

He said 1.19 million rubber farmers have registered with the Ministry of Agriculture to seek financial assistance and the ministry is speeding up checking the rubber plantations of 500,000 farmers to ensure their details are correct.

The government is already granting financial aid, which will continue, and will not intervene in the marketing mechanism by pledging the rubber price at Bt100/kg, he said.

The current price of 3rd grade smoked rubber sheets has increased to Bt75.11/kg given reduced supply in the market as the rainy season has hampered farmers trying to tap rubber, he said. Another factor is that China has reduced its rubber imports from Thailand beginning early this month.

Regarding a request by farmers in Bang Saphan district, Prachuap Khiri Khan, to extend assistance to rubber tappers, Mr Yukol said that some tappers are migrant workers who are not entitled to the financial aid.

The Cabinet reportedly agreed to help farmers but suggested that preliminary discussion should be made in the tripartite committee, comprising farmers, traders and government representatives.

It called on rubber farmers to stop blocking roads which was against the law and inconvenienced motorists.