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

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography More

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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid