Representatives of the rubber planters in the Northeast, North, Central Plains and the eastern region accepted the government's subsidy offer following a meeting on Thursday with Agriculture Minister Yukol Limlaemthong.
Therdsak Sermsri, head of the rubber planters network, said the government offered a subsidy of 1,260 baht per rai for a period of seven months, with a maximum of 25 rai.
He said the proposed subsidy was acceptable as, when calculated, it amounted to a total of 89 baht per kilogramme for their rubber, although it falls short of the planters’ demand for 92 baht/kg for sheet rubber.
Mr Therdsak admitted not everyone was happy, and some planters who rejected the government’s offer as inadequate might still join the protest next Tuesday.
The cabinet is expected to endorse the rubber subsidy on Tuesday.
The government’s success in convincing rubber planters of all areas except the southern region to accept its subsidy, instead of a price guarantee, and not take part in nationwide rallies leaves the protesting southern growers alone in their demand for a guaranteed price.
On Friday they appeared determined to carry on with their protest and to stick to their insistence on a price guarantee of 100 baht/kg for smoked sheet rubber.
Call it "divide and rule", or whatever, the tactic adopted by the government, to negotiate separately with rubber planters in other regions, minus the South, has worked out well for the government side. As for the planters who disagree with the subsidy, the government believes that they will not pose any serious threat even though they may stage a few protests.
For the southern rubber planters, it is time they reconsidered their tough stand, immediately lift the road and train blockade, and return to the negotiating table -- otherwise they will be left alone and risk being condemned. There must be a limit to the inconvenience they can impose on the innocent public, and they have now reached that limit.
Democrat MPs who have been supporting the cause of the rubber planters must try to convince them to end the protest and to accept the reality.
If the rubber planters of other regions can accept the 89 baht/kg equivalent rubber price, why can’t the southern growers do the same? Most of them have been in the trade for decades and have reaped the benefits of the commodity during its boom times, unlike many newcomer planters elsewhere whose trees are still not even mature enough to give a good return from tapping.