More Thai farmers in debt: UTCC survey

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BANGKOK, Aug 16 – A survey by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce finds that the number of farmers having informal debts has increased.

Dr Thanawat Polwichai, Director of the Center for Economic and Business Forecasting, University of Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTTC) released the survey on the debt situation of Thai farmers.

The survey finds that their average debt was more than Bt100,000 per household — Bt103,047 per household — of which nearly two-thirds, 60.9 per cent, was outstanding debt with financial institutions and over one-third, 39.1 per cent, was debt owed to loan sharks, with the latter increasing from the 37.7 per cent recorded earlier.

For the first group in debt to financial institutions, most farmers owe Bt50,000-75,000 and most  have the ability to pay all of their debts, according to the survey.

Meanwhile, 15 per cent of farmers are in debt outside the system, owing about 50,000-100,000 baht on average. In this group, 81 per cent say they are unable to pay back their debt.

Nearly one on four debtors outside the system — 22.4 per cent– owe Bt40,000-50,000, with most — 61.4 per cent – saying they cannot settle their debt.

Comparing the latest harvest to the previous one, most farmers said that profits, selling prices, yields, capital cost, spending and saving are the same, reflecting that the one-year government policy on farming product prices did not help improve farmers’ quality of living.

They still ask the government to control production costs for farmers because they have no bargaining power.

Although their products can be sold at good prices, production costs still high. Mortgage schemes for farm produce did not help reduce their debts.