Vientiane Times, July 17, 2015
Rubber growers in Borikhamxay province are placing for sale signs up on their land in a desperate attempt to relieve debt problems. An official from the provincial Agriculture and Forestry Department, who asked not to be named, told Vientiane Times on Thursday that rubber tree plantations have been advertised for sale across the province. Local growers have decided to sell their land because of the low price of rubber and to repay debts. “They’re in debt because they borrowed money from the banks to plant their rubber trees,” he explained.
The problem seems to be affecting smaller sized plantations more as larger investors in the province have not been reported to be selling their land due to the low rubber price. It’s not only rubber growers in Borikhamxay feeling the pinch but also some families in Sangthong district of Vientiane who have put out for sale signs on the front gate. The news comes following some rubber growers in Luang Namtha province in the northern part of the country last year selling their plantations while others simply destroyed their trees and switched to growing other commercial crops such as bananas and sugarcane. The drastic actions have been put down to the fall in rubber prices as many families went into debt with the banks to finance their plantations.
With many families relying on rubber trees and extraction to earn their living, they faced difficulties when the price of rubber went way down. The rubber obtained from the plantations was planned to supply the rubber market in neighbouring countries. In turn, this would help local people by giving them a long term income, while helping the government to achieve its goal of eradicating poverty by the year 2020. It was hoped that many people would be employed to plant rubber saplings on the concession areas. In addition, they would also have more income through tending to trees as they grew and from collecting the sap.