BANGKOK, 13 December 2013 Rice farmers from 26 provinces have threatened to close highways in their areas if the government fails to speedily accelerate payments to farmers who have pledged rice with the government.
Prasit Boonchoey, Thai Rice Farmers Association president, said farmers demanded the caretaker government to continue the payment to farmers who had already sold their rice from 2013/2014 cropping season to the government under the rice pledging scheme.
According to Prasit, a large number of farmers are still unpaid and they are now in financial troubles, lacking funds to invest in the next crop. They also cannot pay their debts incurred from buying fertilizers, insecticides, seedlings and land rents for the last crop.
However, Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan, the caretaker minister of Commerce assured that the government had enough money to pay all farmers. The delay has been caused by the bottleneck in the registration procedures and preparations by rice millers. The government has already set aside 270 billion baht in budget for the first round of the rice pledging scheme in the 2013/2014 harvesting season while that for the second crop should have to wait for a new government to handle it.