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Poor Thai Jasmine Rice Farmers To Lose their Subsidy

Govt refuses rice price guarantee, but will help cut farmers’ costs

The government has come out with some measures to ensure decent incomes for farmers, insisting that it will not subsidise prices but will only help reduce production costs for the new rice crop.

Meanwhile, farmers have called for the government to guarantee they can get Bt10,000 per tonne of white paddy rice, saying otherwise they will continue to face low incomes or even losses.
At a meeting of five rice farmers’ associations and the Commerce Ministry, Jintana Chaiyawonnagal, director-general of the Internal Trade Department, said the government would not set up a subsidy project or purchase rice from farmers as in the past.
“Rice farmers sought an income guarantee at Bt10,000 per tonne of paddy, so that they will get about Bt4,000 in profit. However, the government will find some measures to help farmers to get that profit by supporting their production costs, and encouraging traders to purchase rice at a higher price,” she said.
Currently, the price of white paddy is quoted at Bt7,800-Bt8,500 per tonne.
Farmers claim that their production costs are about Bt6,000 a tonne.
The main rice harvest season is expected to run from late next month to February.
Measures to help farmers will include soft loans for traders and millers for purchasing rice for about Bt100-Bt200 per tonne higher than market and stocking rice for longer periods. So far, about 133 rice millers have expressed interest in joining the project, which is expected to absorb about 3.7 million tonnes of paddy from the market in the main harvest season.
As well, the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives will provide Bt20 billion in soft loans to encourage farmers to construct their own rice barns so they do not need to accelerate sales during the harvest season.
Prasith Boonchuey, president of the Thai Rice Farmers Association, said farmers wanted the government to guarantee their incomes at Bt10,000 a tonne because when they sell their rice, millers deduct humidity costs, and the farmers end up with only Bt7,000 per tonne.
As long-term measures, the government is considering plans to enhance yield per rai, encouraging farmers to grow other economic crops in areas that are not suitable for rice, and to improve the quality of rice grains.
Meanwhile, Chanudpakorn Vongseenin, president of the Public Warehouses Organisation, has resigned, citing health problems. The ministry will need to find a new president for this agency soon.

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