Government may revise rubber price as famers threaten more protests

The government may increase its offered price of sheet rubber from 90 baht to 95 baht as earlier demanded by the farmers following threats of more protests if this guaranteed price was not met.

The government’s  soft stance was revealed by Deputy Prime Minister Yukol Limlaemgthong, also agriculture minister, following threats of more protests, one from a rubber farmer leader of Songkhla province and his colleagues in Prachuap Khiri Khan.

Yukol said that he would propose the Natural Rubber Policy Committee  at its meeting today to revise the offered price of 90 baht made during a  meeting with farmers’ representatives from 16 provinces in Nakhon Si Thammarat at the weekend. The  meeting was chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Pracha Promnok.

The agriculture minister affirmed to have a conclusion today of the rubber prices, saying that the negotiation team was ready to return to the South again in the bid to achieve a solution that is accepted by both sides.

He said however that if the Natural Rubber Policy Committee insisted on the 90 baht/kilo price guarantee for sheet rubber and rejected the proposed 95 baht/kilo call, the government was ready to secure more fund and other financial measures  to assist farmers in addition to its 1,260 baht/rai cash subsidy.

Meanwhile farmers said they were unsatisfied with the outcome of the meeting in Nakhon Si Thammarat with government chief negotiator Pol-Gen Pracha. Some have threatened to blockade deep seaport and  custom offices in Songkhla province.

Protest leader Kajbandhit Ramark from Songkhla  rubber farmers’ network who joined last week’s talk with  Pol Gen Pracha  Promnok along  with colleagues from other southern provinces, said farmers insisted on 95 baht/kilo but the chief negotiator was quick to  jump to the offered  90 baht.

He said that most farmers  disagreed with the offer.

He said now farmers wanted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to come here to hear farmers’ troubles and receive their proposals. If she could not come, they also would welcome her representative to come instead to receive our demands but not for talks.

But he said farmers remained firm on 95 baht/kilo for sheet rubber plus the cash subsidy of 1,260 baht/rai.

Songkhla governor Krisada Boonrach said however that he was confident that rubber farmers were reasonable enough and would not  bring trouble to the people over threat to blockade seaport and custom offices.