Thailand’s opposition, Abhisit’s Dems, after years of criticizing the Yingluck government’s rice subsidy scheme, for buying rice above market price resulting in a stock-pile, have joined Thailand’s rubber farmers, in organizing their protest in a southern province and threatened national action in a bid to force the Yingluck’s government to restart a stockpiling scheme buying rubber at above-market prices. About 1,000 farmers blocked traffic in Chauat district in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, about 800km south of Bangkok. “When it comes to rice, the government jumps to help farmers, but when it comes to rubber, the government puts the issue on the back-burner,” said Abhisit. Southern Thailand, where much of Thai rubber tree is grown, is a strong Abhisit’s dems voter base. The Yingluck’s government previously spent 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. 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.
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