Farmers demand rice payments Feb 28

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BANGKOK, Feb 20 – Protesting farmers today set Feb 28 as their deadline for the government to pay them for the rice they have sold under the state’s subsidy scheme.

Rawee Rungruang, leader of the Thai Farmers Network, insisted that officials would not be allowed to enter the Commerce Ministry in Nonthaburi, adding that some protesting  planters would occupy the office of the International Trade Promotion Department on Ratchdapisek Road tomorrow to completely cripple the ministry.

Not a single official will be permitted into the Commerce Ministry’s premises whether in Nonthaburi or elsewhere, he said.

Mr Rawee said farmers wanted overdue payments in seven days, or by Feb 28.

Payments for farmers in seven western provinces would be Bt5 billion and another Bt10 billion for those in central region, he said.

An informed source said cash-strapped farmers might be compelled to sell their rice at Bt5,000 per tonne.

Rice millers offered to buy rice at Bt8,000 per tonne early this year while the government’s pledging price is Bt15,000 per tonne.

In the rice-growing province of Ayutthaya, farmers from several central provinces took a rest on the Asian Highway opposite the provincial hall, after having travelled from Uthai Thani and joined by others in Nakhon Sawan, Chai Nat, Sing Buri, Ang Thong, Sara Buri and Lop Buri.

Chada Thaiseth, former Chatthaipattana MP from Uthai Thani, who led the caravan of farmers, said the group was heading for Suvarnabhumi Airport to put pressure on the government for rice payments.

He promised that farmers would neither close the airport nor create traffic congestion in the area, saying they only wanted to talk with caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and not her representative.