Thai farmers advised to ‘steal their rice back’

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farmers protestingDisgruntled Thai rice growers, who haven’t been paid by the government for their crops since November 2013 – some even longer – under the controversial rice pledging scheme, have been advised by anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban to simply go to the warehouses and “steal” their rice back to sell it on the market.

“I have already been charged with insurrection. Another charge of stealing rice should be fine,” he said at a stage speech on February 6 in Bangkok.

Thousands of farmers from the Northeast, the Central and the West of Thailand gathered at the Commerce Ministry in Nonthaburi on the same day. Many of them brought their tractors and farm trucks with them, urging the caretaker government to pay them for paddy sold under the pledging scheme. They camped out overnight outside the ministry compound.

The farmers said they had lost trust in the government after it failed repeatedly to keep its promise of giving them their long-overdue payment. They said the government had betrayed them and sought its resignation in 15 days so that they could receive their dues. Also, the group called on the government to check the quality of rice stored at various granaries.

Prasith Boonchuey, president of the Thai Rice Farmers Association, said many farmers were disappointed with this government since it could not keep its promise.

“The government now owes about 130 billion [$4 billion] to farmers,” he said.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra pleaded on Facebook the farmers to be “sympathetic” while blaming the anti-government rallies for the delay in payments for the pledged paddy. She insisted on continuing the rice-pledging project as this could help improve farmers’ lives and reduce inequality in society. As the political unrest over the past four months has led to the House dissolution, the caretaker government faces limitations.

“The Finance Ministry is finding a way to secure funds within the legal limitations while the Commerce Ministry is accelerating sales of rice from stockpiles. Proceeds from doing this will quickly pay off farmers,” she promised on her page.

However, recent research by the Thailand Development Research Institute on the benefits of the rice-pledging scheme found that only 18 per cent of poor farmers, who make up 30 per cent of all farmers, had benefited from the project. Some 82 per cent of the rich and middle-income farmers were beneficiaries.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Disgruntled Thai rice growers, who haven’t been paid by the government for their crops since November 2013 – some even longer – under the controversial rice pledging scheme, have been advised by anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban to simply go to the warehouses and “steal” their rice back to sell it on the market.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

farmers protestingDisgruntled Thai rice growers, who haven’t been paid by the government for their crops since November 2013 – some even longer – under the controversial rice pledging scheme, have been advised by anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban to simply go to the warehouses and “steal” their rice back to sell it on the market.

“I have already been charged with insurrection. Another charge of stealing rice should be fine,” he said at a stage speech on February 6 in Bangkok.

Thousands of farmers from the Northeast, the Central and the West of Thailand gathered at the Commerce Ministry in Nonthaburi on the same day. Many of them brought their tractors and farm trucks with them, urging the caretaker government to pay them for paddy sold under the pledging scheme. They camped out overnight outside the ministry compound.

The farmers said they had lost trust in the government after it failed repeatedly to keep its promise of giving them their long-overdue payment. They said the government had betrayed them and sought its resignation in 15 days so that they could receive their dues. Also, the group called on the government to check the quality of rice stored at various granaries.

Prasith Boonchuey, president of the Thai Rice Farmers Association, said many farmers were disappointed with this government since it could not keep its promise.

“The government now owes about 130 billion [$4 billion] to farmers,” he said.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra pleaded on Facebook the farmers to be “sympathetic” while blaming the anti-government rallies for the delay in payments for the pledged paddy. She insisted on continuing the rice-pledging project as this could help improve farmers’ lives and reduce inequality in society. As the political unrest over the past four months has led to the House dissolution, the caretaker government faces limitations.

“The Finance Ministry is finding a way to secure funds within the legal limitations while the Commerce Ministry is accelerating sales of rice from stockpiles. Proceeds from doing this will quickly pay off farmers,” she promised on her page.

However, recent research by the Thailand Development Research Institute on the benefits of the rice-pledging scheme found that only 18 per cent of poor farmers, who make up 30 per cent of all farmers, had benefited from the project. Some 82 per cent of the rich and middle-income farmers were beneficiaries.

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