BANGKOK: A network of Thai rubber farmers said yesterday that it had accepted a government subsidy offer aimed at ending recent mass protests that erupted into violence last week.
Thailand is the world’s top exporter of natural rubber and anger among the kingdom’s rubber farmers over their falling incomes had posed a growing challenge to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s two-year-old government.
Deputy government spokeswoman Sunisa Lertpakawat said the cabinet yesterday approved a budget of 21.25bn baht ($660m) to subsidise rubber farmers.
“Today’s decision comes ahead of a mass rally by rubber farmers (this weekend) which could severely affect the economy,” Sunisa told a news conference.
An apparent compromise was struck yesterday after the government agreed to pay farmers 2,520 baht ($80) per rai (0.4 acres, 0.16 hectares) of rubber plantation to help with production costs -- double its previous offer.
In a statement, a grouping of rubber farmers in 15 provinces accepted the deal in principle and called off their next protest which had been planned for this weekend.
“I can confirm that there will be no rally on September 14,” one of the protest leaders, Karjbandid Ramas, said by telephone.
The farmers have accused the government of ignoring their plight. The network urged the government to speed up payments and to send a representative to southern Thailand to sign a formal agreement by Friday.