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iconSustainability of rubber smallholders [   June  2016 ]


With rubber is highly dependent on export markets coupled with high cost of production, producers cannot control the price. Affected by unsuitable plantation areas, plant varieties, fertilizers, yield per hectare is still low. Poverty and debts of farmers are caused by various factors, effecting competitiveness of Thai farmers.

Mid-term and sustainable long term solutions are to enhance the competitiveness in terms of productivity through plant breeding, soil improvement, use of suitable fertilizer, plantation area zoning, reduction of cost of production, turning rubber plantation into rubber forest for better condition of soil without the use of fertilizer and for the utilization of inter-row space for other crops, integration into cooperatives or other groups to enhance negotiation power and connection in the form of clusters. 

The government has formulated rubber strategies for sustainability: develop competitiveness competency so that farmers become self –sufficient, for better quality of life, receiving social welfare in par with workers or staff in other industries. Farmers gain higher income from selling carbon credit under clean development mechanism and voluntary marketing. Current measures and solutions to farmers’ problems comprise of 1. Cash flow support to farmers to use in rubber accumulation, 2. Credit support to farmers to use in rubber processing, 3. Production quantity control, to reduce output and to replace rubber trees with other crops such as perennial fruit trees, oil palm and intercropping, 4. Reduction of cost of production to enhance production efficiency, urging farmers to use proper technology to increase production and reduce cost of production, 5. Increase income with alternative crops based on Sufficiency Economy of the King Bhumibol through intercropping and mixed crop – livestock farming,  6. Rubber market restructuring, to provide significant role to rubber market in the supply chain with systematic connection of production management, marketing and finance and 7. Credit support to smallholders for alternative occupation. In addition, the government shall reduce rubber plantation in unsuitable areas. Through tree bank system, the government can urge farmers to grow alternative plants suitable to particular areas. Research promotion and value addition through innovation as well as rubber consumption measures can be solutions to the creation of sustainability in rubber industry. 

In conclusion, for the up-stream sustainable development of smallholders, officials and farmers shall collectively have to enhance production efficiency and occupation stability, increase income, improve quality of life, change single cropping to intercropping or multiple cropping, allow participation of agricultural institutes in improving production quality of farmers, develop system and methods of technological transfer through local knowledge center, etc.
The Thai Rubber Association has regard for great importance of small holders as they are the main element in up-stream sector. We would like to urge small holders to keep planning and adapt to change in order to achieve sustainable livelihood and occupation amid today’s falling price situation. We shall strive for better condition together. 

Mr. Chaiyos Sincharoenkul


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