3 million tonnes of rice mortgaged under government plan

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BANGKOK, Dec 15 – Thailand’s farmers have mortgaged over 3 million tonnes of unmilled rice since the Oct 7 startup of the government’s rice mortgage scheme.

Deputy Commerce Minister Poom Sarapol made the announcement after a rice mortgage subcommittee meeting today.

Due to the flood crisis covering more than 20 provinces nationwide, he said the amount of rice mortgaged was less than expected, while some farmers sold their harvest to middlemen offering a better price.

Whether and many farmers will bring their rice under the mortgage scheme will depend on market prices.

The rice pledging programme will end on Feb 29, and will not be extended, Mr Poom said.

The government may start a mortgage scheme for off-season rice in the future if farmers still have unmilled rice in their stocks.

The subcommittee’s meeting assigned related agencies to speed up the payment processes for farmers after complaints they had not receive their money.

Mr Poom said false claims have been made by some farmers seeking rice mortgages, particularly in Thailand’s border areas. Legal action will be taken against those found to be attempting to defraud the system.