Farm courses to go ahead despite attack
Training to be held in Suphan Buri after killings in far SouthThe Reviving Paddy Field Project will continue in the deep South despite the recent deadly attack on rice-farming teachers in Pattani, according to the National Security Council (NSC).
"We will step up security measures," NSC secretary-general Lt General Paradorn Pattanathabutr said yesterday.
Launched in 2010, the project aims to turn 30,000 rai of abandoned land in Satun, Yala, Narathiwat, Pattani and Songkhla into paddy fields.
Unrest is the reason why many local residents have not been growing rice. Without adequate paddy fields, villagers in these five southern border provinces have had to buy rice from other provinces at a total price of well over Bt2 billion a year.
Under this project, several residents from the country's rice basket - such as Sing Buri - have gone to the South to teach locals how to work their paddy fields.
Paradorn described the project as "good for the locals". He said with its direct benefit to the people, authorities found no reason for anyone to target the project's teachers.
Last Friday's attack on the rice-farming teachers was "unexpected", he said. While a truck carrying the teachers was moving along a road in Pattani's Yaring district, unknown gunmen opened fire, killing two and injuring many others.
"We will improve safety measures," Paradorn vowed yesterday.
Because of last Friday's attack, surviving rice-farming teachers from Sing Buri yesterday refused to go to work in the paddy fields in Pattani's Yaring district.
Officials had to ask people who learned rice growing before in Suphan Buri, to continue the work in the fields. Resumption of the work took place amid tight security from soldiers, police and security volunteers.
The Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre (SBPAC) now plans to allocate a budget for residents of the deep South to take an educational trip to Suphan Buri and learn how to grow rice in the Central province. This plan came up amid concerns that the project might no longer be able to find any rice-farming teachers to agree to work in the deep South.
An informed source said the trip would start on February 13 and the training would take place at the Buffalo Village learning centre in Suphan Buri.