No love for latex producers as Storm Molave decimates rubber crops

By Dac Thanh   November 21, 2020 | 08:01 pm GMT+7
Farmers in Quang Nam Province have been left with little else but logs after Storm Molave swept their rubber plantations last month.
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A farmer saws through a rubber trunk into logs meant for sale. Over three weeks since Storm Molave, one of the most powerful storms to hit Vietnam in 20 years, landed in the central province on October 28, rubber farmers in Hiep Duc District returned to sort through the debris.

Rubber trees lie uprooted. Quang Nam is home to more than 10,000 ha (24,700 acres) of rubber plantations grown both corporately and privately. Hiep Duc District makes up more than half of the total rubber cultivation area.

Rubber trees lie uprooted.
Quang Nam is home to more than 10,000 ha (24,700 acres) of rubber plantations grown both corporately and privately. Hiep Duc District makes up more than half of the total rubber cultivation area.

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A closer look at the storm damage.
In all, more than 880 ha of rubber plantations in the district were destroyed while 230 ha suffered more than 50 percent damage.

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One of the farmers, Pham Thi Xuyen, said she started out in 2007 with two hectares of rubber. When her trees had reached the age of producing latex six years later, the entire plantation was destroyed by Storm Wutip. Undeterred, she continued investing in the business. In 2018, her rubber trees were again ready to produce latex, though that year prices had sharply decreased, forcing Xuyen to wait for better conditions before harvesting.
To date, the famer has failed to recover her initial investment and lost one hectare to Storm Molave. "I spent VND40,000 on each seeding. Now, after all the effort it took to grow them, all I can get is around VND60,000 ($2.58) for a damaged tree," she said.

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This 10-year-old, uprooted rubber tree sold for VND60,000.

Latex leaks from a tree sawn into logs at a farm in Que Binh Commune of Hiep Duc. Many farmers in the commune say they would give up the rubber trade and switch to cultivating wattle, also known as acacia.

Latex leaks from a tree sawn into logs at a farm in Que Binh Commune of Hiep Duc. Many farmers in the commune say they would give up the rubber trade and switch to cultivating wattle, also known as acacia.

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Rubber tree logs destined to be sold for construction material or firewood.

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Firewood is sold at VND1 million ($43) per ton.

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The last rubber trees still left standing at a farm in Hiep Duc District.
Storm Molave inflicted economic damage worth around VND10 trillion ($430.16 million), according to statistics from affected provinces. The damage was nearly 1.5 times higher than 2019’s total natural disaster-induced loss of VND7 trillion ($302.6 million), mostly due to flooding, storms and landslides.

 
 
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