Viet Nam News
THỪA THIÊN-HUẾ — A series of rubber forests in central Thừa Thiên-Huế Province were cut down for rubber wood and growers have switched to other trees after a period of over-supply and falling prices in recent years, local media reported.
Many growers in Nam Đông, A Lưới and Phong Điền districts and Hương Trà and Hương Thủy townships recently chopped down rubber trees to plant other short-term crops such as cassava and acacia.
According to statistics from the People’s Committee of Hồng Hạ Commune in A Lưới District, one of the largest rubber cultivation areas in the province, more than 400 households have cultivated 224ha of rubber trees since 2015.
At least 13ha were cut down for selling timber and planting cassava and acacia, five hectares of which were cut down since the beginning of the year, said Hồ Viết Lương, chairman of People’s Committee of Hồng Hạ Commune.
According to local authorities, the price of rubber latex dropped sharply, down to only VNĐ12,000 (US$0.52) per kilogram.
Because of the low price, farmers do not have adequate financial incentive to cultivate crops and have to cut down trees to make money from rubber wood to compensate for their losses.
Farmers were also forced to cut down a lot of old rubber trees because those trees died when rubber latex was extracted improperly.
A Moong Tỵ, an officer of Hồng Hạ Commune People’s Committee, said rubber trees bring high economic value to people here, especially in mountain areas. However, in recent years, rubber growers have faced many difficulties in production.
The People’s Committee of A Lưới recently held a meeting with leaders of the Communal People’s Committee and rubber growers to listen their opinion and aspirations in order to encourage them to maintain the rubber cultivation.
Hồ Văn Ngưm, deputy chairman of A Lưới District, said rubber trees were the main tree contributing to the local socio-economic development.
The local authorities have also strengthened guidance about methods in caring for the trees and harvesting rubber latex as well as offering loans with low interest to help them continuously plant rubber trees.
Due to falling prices in recent years, rubber growers in Nam Đông District, the largest rubber cultivation area of Thừa Thiên-Huế Province, have switched to fruit trees such as oranges.
Phan Gia Điền, chairman of Hương Hòa Commune People’s Committee, Nam Đông District, said the whole commune had over 350ha of rubber when the price was up to VNĐ50,000 per kg. Over 10ha of rubber trees were chopped down, he added.
Hồ A Rực, a rubber grower in Ka Tư village, Hương Phú Commune, said many households did not extract rubber latex because of the low price. The growers would lose a lot of money if they hired two or three labourers to take latex.
Thousands of households in Thượng Quảng, Hương Hòa communes and Khe Tre township have also fallen into dire straits due to the decline of rubber prices, Pháp Luật (Law) newspaper reported.
Hồ Thị Ôi, a grower in Hương Hòa Commune, said that her family also borrowed money from the bank to plant 2ha of rubber trees.
In previous years, she earned VNĐ5-7 million a month. But now, the price of latex was too low, not enough to pay wages for workers, she said.
Trần Quốc Phụng, chairman of Nam Đông District People’s Committee, said they encouraged the local rubber growers not to cut down trees and to wait for the price to increase.
Deputy director of the provincial Agriculture and Rural Development Department Hồ Vang said that under the direction of the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry, the province also guided and mobilised rubber growers in the province to try to take care of rubber plantations and minimize the cutting of trees to switch to other purposes. — VNS