News / Asia

    Thai Rice Farmers Give Government a Week to Make Payments

    Rice farmers walk between their tractors on a main highway where they spent a night in Ayutthaya. Thai farmers called off a tractor drive to Bangkok's main airport to protest against not being paid under a rice subsidy scheme after an assurance they would
    Rice farmers walk between their tractors on a main highway where they spent a night in Ayutthaya. Thai farmers called off a tractor drive to Bangkok's main airport to protest against not being paid under a rice subsidy scheme after an assurance they would
    Ron Corben
    Pressure on Thailand's government eased Friday after thousands of rice farmers, preparing to demonstrate in Bangkok over delayed rice payments, accepted promises of money next week. Thai rice sector remains deeply troubled as the government tries to find a way to pay tens of thousands of farmers.

    Faced with threats from thousands of farmers arriving in Bangkok, Thailand's besieged government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra successfully negotiated their return home Friday with promises to meet outstanding payments next week.

    The farmers, from the central regions, are among as many as one million rice growers waiting for outstanding payments from last year's crop under the government's controversial rice price support scheme.

    The Thai Government has sent more than $20 billion during the two years it has been in office to farmers and millers as part of a scheme that offered to pay growers 50 percent above world prices.

    The plan was a center piece of the governing Pheu Thai Party's election manifesto in 2011 and helped it secure the votes of the rural electorate in the north and northwest of the country.

    But analysts and rice industry observers say the scheme has been dogged by corruption allegations and suggestions of fake government-to-government  deals that failed to materialize.

    Vichai Siriprasert, honorary president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said the scheme has led to huge losses for the government.

    "Now we have a big mess because the price was set at the wrong level. We know that as a consequence we could not sell the rice - overstocked and ran out of money," he explained. "The government I would say lost about two thirds of the investment. So after two years they managed to get back only 18 baht for every 100 baht invested in the mortgage scheme."

    Anger over the late payments has grown within the rural community as farmers face increasing indebtedness. Farmers associations have linked some 11 farmer suicides in part to the delays.

    Earlier this week, Yingluck, on national TV, offered a public apology.

    But while Yingluck spoke of her sadness for the farmers, she defended the scheme, claiming delays in payment were due to on-going anti-government protests in Bangkok.

    At the same time, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) is to press charges against Ms Yingluck in her role as chair of the national rice policy committee. Yingluck has rebutted the claims.

    Thailand, once the world's leading rice exporter has slipped to third place behind India and Vietnam. Unable to sell its rice stockpiles on the international market without major losses, some 20 million tons of rice is now in warehouses, often deteriorating in quality.

    David Dawe, a U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) economist, says Thailand faces challenges in attempting international sales to raise funds to pay farmers without triggering a collapse in the global rice market.

    "If they hold this stuff for too long it continues to deteriorate in storage and incur costs as well. But if they get rid of it all now they are going to cause the market to really collapse and so it's really going to be a fine balancing act," stated Dawe.

    But Dawe said Thailand could return to being the world's top rice exporter once the current problems are overcome.  

    The government, a caretaker administration until a new cabinet is formed after the February 2 national polls, has sought alternative funding sources to pay the farmers, including loans from state-owned banks. But depositors and staff have protested including a run on deposits at one bank that led to a halt in loans.

    The rice farmers, strong supporters of the governing Pheu Thai Party, have given the Yingluck a week to meet the outstanding payments or are vowing to return and besiege the city.

    You May Like

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    City could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters

    Turkey Aims New Crackdown at Journalists, Academics, Airline Workers

    Ankara continues targeting people allegedly linked to exiled cleric, who it says led the failed military coup

    Pakistan Ready to Inaugurate Rebuilt Afghan Border Crossing

    Construction of Torkham Gate triggered deadly clashes between Pakistani and Afghan military forces

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Triple Gem from: Thailand
    February 21, 2014 8:20 PM
    The anti-government protests started Nov 25 2013 and the rice payments were due by October,she has made numerous promises already to pay the farmers without doing so and the latest promise is just to continue holding on to power to run the brutal Shinawatra regime.Help Thai farmers and buy Thai rice!

    by: Triple Gem from: Thailand
    February 21, 2014 7:55 PM
    The rice payments were overdue months before the protests started,she shows no sincere regret with what has happened.Rubber,Topiaca,Corn,Sugar Cane farmers also have problems with payments.Her dishonesty is gobsmacking and the shameless torment she is causing the country makes her heartless!!!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora