June 13, 2017 / 12:30 PM / 2 months ago

Thailand takes steps to help rubber farmers cope with low prices

BANGKOK, June 13 (Reuters) - Thailand's cabinet on Tuesday approved measures to help rubber farmers and stabilise falling prices, the country's prime minister said.

These include an extension to a 10 billion baht ($294.90 million) loan programme for agricultural cooperatives for three more years, and another 10 billion baht loan program for rubber businesses.

"The government is trying to solve the problem. Rubber prices, like rice prices, have highs and lows," Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters after the weekly cabinet meeting.

The government will also continue to pay a direct subsidy of 1,500 baht ($44.23) per rai (0.17 hectares) for up to 15 rai per household to help to cover the costs of rubber production as well as living expenses for rubber farmers.

About 11,460 families are expected to receive the subsidy in the country, which is the world's biggest producer and exporter of the commodity.

Thai benchmark unsmoked rubber sheet RUB-USS3-HDY was quoted at 55.05 baht ($1.62) per kilogram on Tuesday, down more than 40 percent from 93.52 baht ($2.76) in January.

It recovered from 53.35 baht ($1.57) last Monday, the lowest of the year.

The government said it hoped the measures would push rubber prices up to 70 baht per kilogram.

$1 = 33.9100 baht Reporting by Kitiphong Thaicharaoen and Pracha Hariraksapitak; Additional reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat; Writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat. Editing by Jane Merriman

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