Farmers demand rice payment on Monday

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BANGKOK, Jan 17 – Farmers in a number of provinces are up in arms against the government for failing to pay for the rice they have delivered under the rice subsidy scheme.

Ubonsak Bualuang-ngam, president of the Farmers’ Central Committee of Thailand, said farmers have yet to be paid for the rice from 2013/2014 crop and threatened to take legal action against the government for not keeping its promise.

He said the government should return the paddy to farmers so they could sell it to rice millers if it could not pay the debts.

Walit Charoensombat, leader of the Rice Seeds Production and Promotion Centre in Ratchaburi, said farmers in the province have been paid only 20 per cent for the rice they have sold to the government.

The Irrigation Department is releasing water into farmland next month but farmers lack financial resources for farming in the coming season, he said.

He demanded the government pay farmers on Monday, adding that farmers in western rice-planting provinces, including Kanchanaburi, Ratchaburi, Phetchburi, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkram and Prachuap Khiri Khan, will meet on the weekend to resolve the delayed payment.

“Farmers are short of money for the next planting season and they will have extra expenses during the coming Chinese New Year. The government must show its responsibility,” he said.

Mr Walit said farmers had submitted letters to the government twice, asking for speedy payment to them.