Angry Thai farmers want their rice back

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Thai rice farmersThousands of upset rice farmers in Thailand have said they will block major roads in their home provinces as well as join the anti-government protests in Bangkok in case they won’t be paid for their rice according to the rice pledging scheme.

Most of the farmers have not been paid since November 2013 with the government saying it ran out of funds for the rice pledging scheme introduced three years ago by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. For many, this caused financial trouble because they are not able to pay back debt and are falling prey to loan sharks in their provinces.

Protest leaders say they want their harvest back to sell it by themselves unless they are not paid until January 25.

“If the government fails to meet this deadline, the farmers will continue closing down roads in their provinces and will also join the People’s Democratic Reform Committee rallies in Bangkok,” said Prasit Booncheuy, president of the Thai Rice Farmers Association.

Many farmers have received “certificates” to claim money for their harvest, but have still not seen any cash.

The rice pledging scheme is seen as one of the great failures of the Shinawatra government. Initially introduced to provide farmers a decent income at guaranteed 15,000 baht per tonne of rice, world market prices did not allow the government to sell it for that amount, resulting in heavy losses that are putting pressure on the Thai budget.

The scheme is also said to be plagued heavily by corruption and deceit. Of the 15,000 baht, up to a third is not trickling down to farmers but held by “middlemen” and trading firms. Rice from neighbouring countries has been smuggled in and mixed with Thai rice to wangle a higher price.

The scheme also lead to overstocking of rice in warehouses, with the effect of further boosting costs and resulting in 100,000s of tonnes of unsellable, rotten rice.

Furthermore, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been accused of cheating the public on government-to-government rice sales contracts by having document forged to look like they were a deal with a foreign government while the rice has been sold domestically. The prime minister is now facing an anti-graft probe by the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Thousands of upset rice farmers in Thailand have said they will block major roads in their home provinces as well as join the anti-government protests in Bangkok in case they won’t be paid for their rice according to the rice pledging scheme.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Thai rice farmersThousands of upset rice farmers in Thailand have said they will block major roads in their home provinces as well as join the anti-government protests in Bangkok in case they won’t be paid for their rice according to the rice pledging scheme.

Most of the farmers have not been paid since November 2013 with the government saying it ran out of funds for the rice pledging scheme introduced three years ago by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. For many, this caused financial trouble because they are not able to pay back debt and are falling prey to loan sharks in their provinces.

Protest leaders say they want their harvest back to sell it by themselves unless they are not paid until January 25.

“If the government fails to meet this deadline, the farmers will continue closing down roads in their provinces and will also join the People’s Democratic Reform Committee rallies in Bangkok,” said Prasit Booncheuy, president of the Thai Rice Farmers Association.

Many farmers have received “certificates” to claim money for their harvest, but have still not seen any cash.

The rice pledging scheme is seen as one of the great failures of the Shinawatra government. Initially introduced to provide farmers a decent income at guaranteed 15,000 baht per tonne of rice, world market prices did not allow the government to sell it for that amount, resulting in heavy losses that are putting pressure on the Thai budget.

The scheme is also said to be plagued heavily by corruption and deceit. Of the 15,000 baht, up to a third is not trickling down to farmers but held by “middlemen” and trading firms. Rice from neighbouring countries has been smuggled in and mixed with Thai rice to wangle a higher price.

The scheme also lead to overstocking of rice in warehouses, with the effect of further boosting costs and resulting in 100,000s of tonnes of unsellable, rotten rice.

Furthermore, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been accused of cheating the public on government-to-government rice sales contracts by having document forged to look like they were a deal with a foreign government while the rice has been sold domestically. The prime minister is now facing an anti-graft probe by the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

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