BANGKOK – Thailand’s military-appointed government approved measures to help rubber farmers who have been hit hard by sharp declines in export prices.
The decision enables the National Rubber Policy Committee to dispense a one-time cash handout worth no more than 15,000 baht ($465) to each of some 850,000 rubber farmers across the country. The total is estimated at nearly 8.5 billion baht, according to Maj. Gen. Sunsern Kaewkumnerd, a government spokesman.
“The rubber panel is in the process of verifying the names of eligible farmers and we are certain that the payment will be made by November,” Maj. Gen. Sunsern said.
The government also approved a proposal to authorize the state-run Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives to lend nearly 1.1 billion baht to around 150,000 rubber-farming households who need to rehabilitate their farms or switch to other crops.
The two measures were proposed last week by the National Rubber Policy Committee. Thai rubber export prices have fallen more than 30% this year to five-year lows; global stockpiles exceed demand.
Thailand is the world’s largest producer and exporter of natural rubber, accounting for about a third of output world-wide.
The latest measures follow a short-term government plan that focuses on purchasing rubber directly from farmers with the intention of selling the stocks later to boost prices. More than 20 billion baht has been made available for the purchase plan.
By – Nopparat Chaichalearmmongkol