Rubber farmers want govt’s Bt3 billion cash up front

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BANGKOK, Oct 9 – Protestors from a nationwide crude rubber dealer network rallied at Government House today, charging the government with failing to pay Bt3 billion for its purchase of rubber from farmers under a state-sponsored scheme.

Manoon Upala, vice president of the Rubber Farmers’ Institute Network, said the government urged the 44 institutes nationwide to buy rubber directly from farmers between Aug 17 and Oct 3 in an attempt to stabilise domestic rubber prices.

The purchased rubber will, according to the government, be sold to the Rubber Replanting Aid Fund (RRAF), a unit under the Agriculture Ministry.

He said the 44 institutes, which have formed a national network, have purchased rubber from farmers but no money has reached them so far.

The farmers’ patience has been stretched, and now they want the money.

“The government said an allocation of Bt30 billion for the programme was approved to be paid in six installments of Bt5 billion each. The payment procedure is complicated. We don’t believe the government will make it,” Mr Manoon said.

He called on the government to stop interfering with rubber prices and liberalise the marketing mechanism.

Deputy agriculture minister Nattawut Saikua promised the protesters that he will instruct the RRAF to complete payments within a week, explaining that the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives is in the process of transferring funds to the RRAF.

He said he will take into consideration the farmers’ proposals on market liberalisation and appointment of farmer representatives to inspect rubber purchases.