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Rice-pledging Scheme

Rice farmers overjoyed as payments begin

RICE FARMERS across the country were delighted as payments under the rice-pledging scheme resumed yesterday under the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

I am so glad that the money has arrived," Chamnarn Taenghom from Phichit province said.

During the past six months, millions of farmers had desperately pressed for payments from the Yingluck Shinawatra-led administration to no avail. While the previous government blamed the months-long political turmoil as the main obstacle, critics blamed massive corruption. After the NCPO seized power, it vowed to prioritise the payments to farmers.

"We need money to invest in a new crop season," Chamnarn said.

According to the Phichit branch of the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Co-operatives (BAAC), it is paying more than 10,000 farmers under the Bt2-billion budget approved by the NCPO.

Additional funds are on the way. BAAC branches have been allocated different amounts, as the number of farmers at each branch differs.

Sa-ngob Bua-jan yesterday showed up at the BAAC's Khon Kaen branch and found that the payments had progressed to queue No 1023 already.

"I have two queue cards, one being No 1056 and the other being 1406. So I am convinced I will get my money soon," he said.

Sa-ngob, 66, thanked the NCPO for giving priority to rice farmers. Many farmers committed suicide recently due to the delayed payments.

Nupin Promta, a 47-year-old farmer, was overjoyed when she learnt that the BAAC had begun paying again. "I am told I will get money within five days," she said.

The BAAC branch in her hometown has already received a Bt650-million budget and will get more.

Elsewhere, payments to farmers under the rice-pledging scheme have also resumed.

In Uttaradit province, Boonrod Prabsamornchai received more than Bt236,000 from the rice-pledging scheme yesterday.

"It has revived my hope," he said.

Kittisak Rattanawaraha, who chairs the Network of Rice Farmers in the Lower North, said with the NCPO running the country all participants in the rice-pledging scheme believed they would be paid within one month.

"All farmers are delighted," he said.

In Sukhothai province, rice farmers joined more than 1,000 demonstrators in expressing support for the military. They handed flowers to a major-general at the Sukhothai City Hall.




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