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NCPO may offer rice farmers subsidy of Bt1,700-per-rai in three-way meet today

The military's ruling National Council for Peace and Order will today (June18) consider granting farmers a rice-production subsidy of Bt1,700 per rai, after farmers proposed Bt3,000 per rai.

The NCPO's economic team is scheduled to meet with farmers and rice millers today to finalise measures to help farmers in the upcoming rice-harvest season.

The junta earlier decided not to support farmers as previous elected governments had done through costly pledging or price-guarantee projects. But farmers pleaded for some form of assistance as the market price for paddy white rice has dropped to only Bt5,000-Bt6,000 per tonne.

A senior government official said reducing the costs of production could be the final choice to help rice farmers, as it would not cost much. The military government will ask manufacturers of chemical fertiliser and pesticide to cooperate by reducing their retail prices.

Other cost-reduction measures could include asking landlords to reduce rental fees for rice plantations, and providing some funds for community cooperatives to purchase rice seeds.

However, a source with a fertiliser manufacturer said producers could only reduce their prices for a short period, since they faced rising costs of imported chemicals because of the weaker baht and other factors.

Vichian Phuanglamjiek, president of the Thai Rice Growers Association, said farmers wanted the government to grant them about Bt3,000 per rai (Bt18,750 per hectare) to reduce their production costs.

He said farmers wanted the government to set a price for rice based on the average production cost plus a 40-per-cent profit margin so they can survive.

Vichian pointed out that the cost of rice cultivation was currently Bt5,000-6,000 per rai, very close to the market price. Farmers are now facing losses.


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