August 20, 2016

Rubber prices have yet to bounce back from two-year slump

Tapping sap from a rubber tree.
Tapping sap from a rubber tree.

RUBBER farmers in eastern Shan State are facing an array of hardships as the value of rubber has yet to show any signs of appreciating since it began declining in 2014.
“We were issued permits to plant and tap rubber trees, so we are restricted from planting alternative crops to alleviate our woes. People are selling off their rubber plantations because the fall in the value of rubber isn’t cost-effective anymore with all the expenses needed to maintain plantations,” said Ko Pauk, a rubber farmer from the town of Kengtung. The current price for a kilo of raw rubber from eastern Shan State fetches between K600 and K800, with most of it exported to neighbouring China.
“An acre [of rubber trees] produces on average 800 pounds [of rubber]. Since the price of rubber production doesn’t make a profit, we have to give words of encouragement and support to rubber farmers in order to cheer them up,” said U Kyaw Zeyar, district head of the Department for Industrial Crops Development in Kengtung.
Eastern Shan State features a total of over 100,000 acres of rubber plantations, with 4,459 acres of rubber trees planted and tapped within Kengtung Township.


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