Hard times for rubber farmers


I just got back from my holiday in Thailand, which was very nice apart from an unfortunate bout of food poisoning. Anyway, I thought you might be interested in seeing this article from the Bangkok Post, which highlights just how crucial chemicals are in the real world (not that you’ll need much convincing). In particular, it demonstrates the importance of fertilizers.

Thailand is the world’s leading exporter of rubber, but crop yields are expected to be lower this year. The reason? It seems that a lot of the fertilizers being supplied to Thai rubber plantations are fake or sub-standard, despite the fact that the costs of fertilizers have doubled over the past year. This is causing much hardship for Thai rubber farmers, and presumably could have a knock-on effect for global rubber supplies and prices.

Everyone is aware of the consequences of fake drugs flooding the pharmaceutical market, but I hadn’t realized that a similar situation existed for fertilizers. The implications for the rubber industry and for farmers in particular are made clear in the Bangkok Post article, but if the problem extends to food-crop farming in developing countries, then the effects could be even more dire. Has anyone else heard of this problem?


Andrew Mitchinson (Associate Editor, Nature)

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