Minister stands firm on new pledging price of paddy

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Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom is so far standing firm that the government’s decision to reduce pledging price for paddy by Bt3,000 per tonne will remain unchanged.

The cabinet has decided to slash the rice subsidy from Bt15,000 per tonne to Bt12,000 per tonne, effective June 30, and set the ceiling for rice purchases at Bt500,000 from each farming household.

The commerce minister’s insistence came on the heels of protests in a number of provinces by farmers against the government’s decision.

The prime minister has instructed agencies concerned to look into farmers’ rice production costs, including fertilizer and seed, while the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives will extend loan payment terms and lower interest to farmers, said Boonsong.

The pledging price of Bt12,000 per tonne is for paddy in the 2012/2013 second crop while the price for the 2013/2014 annual harvest season will be decided soon.

The commerce minister said a decision must be made within next month on the new pledging price as farmers will start planting late next month for harvest in early October.

Farmers should know the pledging price before they begin their rice cultivation for the new season, he said, reassuring that the new price will be appropriate and profitable for farmers.

Boonsong welcomed the Thai Chamber of Commerce’s proposal to ask the private sector to help distribute rice from the state stockpiles.

The Foreign Trade Department was also instructed to find ways to release rice from the pledging scheme after several international trading companies have contacted the government to buy the grain, he said.