Northern Thailand’s lamyai farmers, who had been struggling to find markets for this year’s crops are rushing to pack up their fruits to send to China.
China has imposed a ban on Thai lamyai due to the plethora of mealy bugs which has seen lamyai prices plummet this year, with many farmers making the journey to more southern provinces, despite the pandemic, to get better prices for their crops.
On the 16th and 17th of August every single lamyai buyer in the north refused to purchase the fruit.
Chiang Mai and Lamphun, the two largest producers of lamyai in Thailand, has been deeply affected by this crisis.
A representative of lamyai farmers in Saraphi told CityNews that farmers who had been expecting income from this year’s lamyai crops were devastated when they learned earlier this month that China would no longer be purchasing the fruit.
Now that the ban has been lifted, he says, they are racing against time. Farmers who had already harvested their crops are packing them up ready for export while others who had given up hope of sales were now rushing to harvest the fruit before it rots on the trees.
Prices are lower than ever before with lamyai normally selling at around 20 baht per kilogram, often reaching nearly 30 baht, but this year’s prices have plummeted to 11 to 12 baht for grade AA (2.7cm in diameter) lamyai. Grade B lamyai, which is 2.2cm is selling as low as 2 baht per kg.
In spite of this drastic drop in prices, any income is still providing great relief to many farmers. The Saraphi representative said that this lifting of the ban will not be providing any interest to any farmers, but will mitigate this year’s losses, and if lucky, some may even break even.
Some farmers are bracing the pandemic and driving south, racing against time and rot, in hopes of reaching southern markets which pay up to 50 baht per kg. (In the off season, prices in the South can reach 100 baht per kg). Farmers say that grade C lamyai, the smallest used to sell at 1 baht per kg, but this year they are unsalable.
Farmers now also say that they will be petitioning the government to help negotiate with the Chinese government to avoid such crises in the future as well as to help to find markets in Thailand as well as abroad as well as to appoint relevant departments to help with annual pest issues by either providing training and education to farmers or financial support. Lamyai is one of the top ten crops in Thailand with no government regulation, support or floor price guarantee.