SING BURI, Jan 24 – Three hundred farmers from several rice-planting provinces blocked the Asian Highway in this central Thailand province to pressure the caretaker government to make good on the long overdue payment for the rice they have sold to the state under the rice subsidy programme.
The farmers from Sing Buri, Lop Buri, Suphan Buri, Ang Thong and Chai Nat said the government has delayed the payment since October, forcing farmers to bear accumulating debts.
Under the rice pledging scheme, the government bought rice from farmers at Bt15,000 per tonne. Farmers have delivered rice from the latest crop to the Commerce Ministry but have yet to be paid.
Farmers closed Km104-105 of the Asian Highway in Sing Buri’s In Buri district yesterday afternoon, causing heavy traffic congestion.
In the northeastern province of Ubon Ratchathani, farmers seized the road in front of the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC), demanding Bt8.4 billion in payment for their already delivered rice.
They dispersed after the agriculture bank agreed to extend loans at 20 per cent of the value of delivered rice to relieve their financial constraint.
Another group of 300 farmers from Muang Sam Sip and Don Mot Daeng districts in Ubon Ratchthani marched through the town to demand the government’s payment at Bt8.466 billion.
Traffic in the provincial town was heavily congested after farmers closed the road in front of the BAAC branch office.
Suvimol Thong-in, manager of the BANK’S Ubon Ratchathani branch, met with protesting farmers who were allowed to borrow from the bank at 20 per cent of the value of delivered rice.
She said farmers would be fully paid in the next few months after the BAAC receives fresh funds from the government.