11 July 2024

Palm oil has been an important economic crop in Thailand since the 1930s. Most plantations are located in the south of the country. So, when demand began to decrease, and market prices gradually fell, the main income for many farmers was hit hard.

While palm oil prices have fallen to new lows, and are expected to fall further, a group of housewives, from Talae-Dum in Satun province, have come together to make use of palm oil fronds, a part of the tree that was once considered useless.

They take the green fronds, cut them into strips on a homemade machine and then boil them for 10 minutes, to reduce the chance of mold growing. Then the fronds are weaved into handmade wicker baskets and bags, generating another source of income for palm oil farmers.

Thai oil palm farmers have been asking the commerce ministry for help. They say factories are buying oil palm from them at a very low price, citing oversupply. The farmers are asking the government to come up with some solutions, a price structure and some kind of legislation to support them.

In the meantime, the farmers must just try to make the best of what they have, like these villagers in Satun, who turned the unused part of the palm into a source of extra income.