Thailand rubber farmers stage protest

BANGKOK: Thai rubber farmers held a protest in a southern province and threatened national action in a bid to force the government to restart a stockpiling scheme buying rubber at above-market prices.

The government previously spent 22 billion baht (US$690mil) under a programme that ended in May to buy 210,000 tonnes of unsmoked rubber sheet from local farmers. Thailand is the world’s largest producer of natural rubber.

The government has said it will not resume the intervention programme, which purchased the rubber sheet at 120 baht per kg, compared with a current market price of about 72 baht.

About 1,000 farmers blocked traffic in Chauat district in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, about 800km south of Bangkok.

The global economic downturn has cut rubber demand and dragged benchmark smoked rubber sheet from a record high of US$6.40 per kg in February 2011 to US$2.80 in mid-2012. Rubber sheet was at US$2.65 per kg yesterday. — Reuters

Benchmark Tokyo rubber futures jumped 3% yesterday to 278.0 yen per kg, the highest in three months, but traders said the rise had not been reflected in cash rubber as good weather had allowed farmers to tap more latex, boosting supply. — Reuters

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