Farmers more satisfied with rice pledging scheme: Survey

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BANGKOK, Sept 13 – Thai rice farmers prefer the government’s rice pledging scheme to the price guarantee scheme, according to an opinion poll by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) Centre for Economic and Business Forecasting.

Centre director Thanawat Polvichai said the poll was conducted September 10-16 among 1,200 farmers nationwide on their attitude toward the rice mortgage scheme, the price guarantee scheme and solutions to farmers’ debts problem.

Farmers say they are happier with the rice pledging scheme because they can receive money sooner.

There are about 3.7 million households growing rice, or around 19 million farmers. The overall production amounts to 32-35 million tonnes of unmilled rice.

The government received 18 million tonnes of unmilled rice under the mortgage scheme with a budget of Bt280 billion during the 2011/2012 harvest season. As a result, according to Dr Thanawat, farmers were to receive Bt5,000-7,000/tonne under the condition that the process was not corrupt.

The poll found that one-third of the farmers said the rice mortgage scheme should not be cancelled. Those who said if the government was to cancel the scheme viewed the government should help reduce production costs. The farmers also wanted a clear answer from the government on whether the Bt400 billion rice pledging scheme will benefit farmers and those related in the whole country.

Regarding farmers’ debts, the amount of overall debts increased around Bt114,000 per household, or a rise of 11 per cent year-on-year.

Fifty-nine per cent of farmers are in the formal debt system, while the remaining 49 per cent have informal debts. Most of the debt increased is informal, Mr Thanawat said.

Farmers believed if the rice mortgage scheme continued for another three years, they would be debt-free under the condition that they were disciplined in their spending.