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First hand experience of a Thai rubber plantation. By Kate Reeves

First hand experience of a Thai rubber plantation. By Kate Reeves

I was lucky enough to visit my dad and his wife in Thailand earlier this month, January 2018. They live in Det Udom, Ubon Ratchantani, Thailand which isn’t too far from the Cambodian border. Det Udom is a small village and the main form of income is farming, particularly Rubber Tree farming. My dad and his wife have about 900 Rubber Trees of their own on 2 farms.

Each day we were woken by the roosters at about 3.30am and dad and I set off on our walk by 4.30am with their 4 dogs. We walked along dirt paths that had Rubber Plantations all around us. To my amazement, on the very first morning walk (and every morning I was there) we saw a farmer cutting the bark of the rubber tree right beside us. They use a very sharp instrument to cut the rubber on the diagonal. They then tap a little tiny metal tray gently into the tree and peel the existing dried line of rubber from the tree. The sap (ie rubber) then begins to flow into a black bowl that is attached to the tree at a reasonably slow rate.

Not so long ago the farmers were able to sell the rubber for 80 baht per kg. Now they only get 14 baht per kg of rubber. The farmers are very poor and work extremely hard (even more so that the rate for sale has dropped so enormously). The weather conditions in Thailand are super hot for at least half of the year and they have a long Monsoon period too. It was winter when I was there and the days were still easily 26 to 30 degrees celsius.

The farmers usually start work at 2am as the rubber flows more easily when its cool, rather than in the hot afternoon sun.

Once the farmers cut down one side of the tree, they cut on the other side of the tree. The rubber tree usually produces for about 25 years. After this time the farmers sell the wood to make furniture. Rubber trees are continually replanted.

I was taken aback by how poor the farmers are. They actually live to eat and survive. I came back to my world of balloon decorating at Balloon Brilliance with a totally different attitude towards my livelihood and my lifestyle where plumbing and electricity and the ability to pay my bills have always been taken for granted. I loved seeing where our balloons originate and I can totally stress that they are made from a natural product which I saw every day with my own eyes.

Banning latex balloons would be detrimental to all of the Rubber Tree farmers in the world. They rely on producing this natural substance to live and feed their families. LATEX BALLOONS ARE NOT PLASTIC. I dont agree with balloon releases or littering of any sort in the environment (in any form). When you are finished with balloons at your party, pop them and put them in the bin.

Kind regards

Kate Reeves 0409 025 052
Balloon Brilliance, The Balloon Professionals

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2 thoughts on “First hand experience of a Thai rubber plantation. By Kate Reeves

Ray StewartPosted on  8:47 am - Jan 24, 2018

Awesome. I would love to visit a plantation like this. Thanks Kate.

Peter ReevesPosted on  9:25 am - Jan 24, 2018

Very good summary, well done.

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