UTCC poll reveals farmers want rice pledging scheme extended

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BANGKOK, 26th September 2013 Most farmers want the government to continue with the rice pledging program due to resulting improvements in overall living conditions, according to a poll result. 

The poll was conducted by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) and involved a sample of 1,228 farmers. Mr. Thanawat Polwichai, the Director of the UTCC Center for Economic and Business Forecasting said 63.7% of farmers under the survey claimed that the rice pledging program yielded a good result to their families as it helped to lower debts and increase savings.

However, they admitted the project had resulted in a higher cost of production, especially in rental costs. Despite that fact, only a moderate number of farmers agreed to a lower pledged price of 13,000 baht per ton. Farmers insisted that the government continue with the rice pledging scheme, and in case the policy affected the export sector, they suggested the government should come up with measures to help exporters instead.

The poll showed 35.2% of farmers wanted the project remaining in place while 22.8% said it could be eliminated once the market price of rice was higher satisfactorily. 40.9% of farmers said they would stage a protest to force the government to extend the project and to help in lowering production costs and interest rates and also in maintaining pledged prices to an appropriate level.

On the part of exporters, 70.6% of surveyed people said the project was more damaging to the country as the pledged price was set too high, making Thai rice non-competitive in the world market. According to exporters, Thai rice exports have dropped by 82% along with their quality. They opined that the rice pledging scheme should be abolished immediately.