Banning Kratom Would Devastate Indonesian Farmers, Since There Is No Alternative Cash Crop Due To The Collapse Of The Global Rubber Market
As discussed in a previous article on The Kratom Herald, a law has been passed in Indonesia which would make Kratom illegal as of New Year’s Day 2022, and this is one of the biggest threats to the Kratom industry since the United States obtains 95% of its Kratom supply from Indonesia.
Another very negative aspect of this situation is that Indonesian Kratom farmers would be facing a catastrophe if this law is not repealed before 2022, since they depend on the income from Kratom farming to survive, and there is no viable alternative anymore due to the collapse of the natural rubber market.
Basically, before Kratom became popular in the United States, most Indonesian Kratom farmers were actually natural rubber farmers. Natural rubber is obtained by cutting into a rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) and collecting the latex which slowly drips out, similar to the concept of Maple Syrup farming.
Like Kratom, the rubber tree requires year-round tropical heat and humidity, and is mostly grown in Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Indonesia produced 2.4 million tons of natural rubber in 2017, whereas the total global production was 28 million tons.
The rubber market used to be very healthy, and the price of rubber rapidly rose between 2002 and 2011. At that point, the rubber farmers in Indonesia were likely doing quite well.
However, the price of rubber collapsed from $2.80 per pound in February 2011 to $1.53 by the end of 2011, and since then natural rubber has collapsed even further over the years to $0.61 per pound currently. This collapse is both due to the rise of synthetic rubber, and a proliferation of natural rubber growing.
It is probably no coincidence that the rise of Kratom in the United States coincided with the collapse of the rubber market. Indonesian rubber farmers had to abandon rubber farming, and the best alternative was Kratom farming. When the rubber market collapsed in 2011, the Kratom farming industry rapidly ramped up production.
Numerous Indonesian farmers now depend on growing Kratom for their income. In-fact, there are entire villages which depend on the income from Kratom farming. Therefore, it is clear how banning Kratom would be devastating.
The Indonesian government had mercy and did not enact an immediate Kratom ban, in order to give time for Kratom farmers to find alternative crops to grow. However, due to the continued collapse of the rubber market, Indonesian farmers have no good alternative.
Indeed, the Coronavirus Pandemic is hammering the rubber industry, as global industrial demand crashes. In particular, car sales have cratered, so tire companies need much less rubber than usual to operate. Global rubber production is expected to fall by over 13 million tons this year, which represents farmers in Indonesia and other rubber growing regions abandoning their rubber farms due to a lack of profitability.
Therefore, it is obvious that the rubber market can only go down further between now and New Year’s Day 2022, and therefore Indonesian Kratom farmers have no cash crop to transition to if Kratom is banned.
Thus, the Indonesian government needs to wake up and get rid of the upcoming Kratom ban, otherwise countless Indonesian farming families will be forced into poverty.