Measures introduced to help Thai farmers

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BANGKOK, Feb 19 – Thai farmers and rice mill operators in cooperation have introduced three resolutions to provide help to disgruntled farmers who sold rice to state stockpiles under the allegedly corruption-plagued rice pledging scheme.

Thai Farmers Association president Vichien Puanglamchiak said Wednesday that the three resolutions to support the Thai rice growers have been concluded at a meeting among representatives from the Thai Rice Mills Association and the Commerce Ministry, starting by encouraging farmers and general public to deposit their money into Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) accounts to allow BAAC to lend these money to affected farmers.

Meanwhile, a bank account No. 02-00-33-11-9718 at BAAC’s Nonthaburi branch is now open to raise fund to support affected farmers. The meeting also resolved to set up a Farmers Bank even though many sectors view that the idea is impractical. Mr Vichien, however, said the BAAC was launched following the farmers’ idea as well.

Caretaker Deputy Minister of Commerce Yanyong Puangrach stressed that he was ready to transfer his savings to BAAC so that the bank would consider lending the money to support Thai farmers. The setup of the Farmers Fund also marks a good start, he said, adding that the money earned from selling rice to exporters and export taxes can be contributed to the fund at more than Bt1 billion baht a year.

Mr Yanyong is optimistic about the possibility of setting up the farmers’ bank if the process is not interfered with by politics. As of now, he said there are various funds setting up to support farm products including sugarcane, sugar and even rubber but there have not funds to support the Thai farmers yet.