Thai Commerce Ministry holding tripartite talks today on aid to farmers

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BANGKOK, Feb 19 – Thailand’s Commerce Ministry will meet today with rice millers and farmers to find a way to assist the planters.

Caretaker Deputy Commerce Minister Yanyong Phuangrach said rice millers have proposed a fund to help farmers, while the planters themselves want a farmers’ bank.

He said the Commerce Ministry would submit both proposals to related government agencies for further study.

Rice millers agreed that an earlier proposal by the Commerce Ministry for them to lend farmers producing rice receipts as collateral would be impractical while forming a fund to help farmers would take a few months to accomplish.

They urged the Commerce Ministry to urgently release rice from its stocks to rice millers, similar to its rice sales to exporters.

They said rice millers purchased over 500,000 tonnes of rice from the Foreign Trade Department last week.

Mr Yanyong said rice millers would be willing to buy rice on the condition of payment within 30 days – a method which, if successful, will generate Bt5-6 billion to pay farmers.

In the northeastern province of Ubon Ratchthani, over 4,000 farmers in Buntarik district have demanded a total due payment of Bt600 million from the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC), saying they have waited for months.

A BAAC executive said the Buntarik branch was allocated the latest amount of Bt41 million which will be paid to farmers today.

Farmers threatened to protest in Bangkok if they did not receive payments by next week.