Survey: farmers love rice pledging

Farmers favoured the rice pledging scheme offering 15,000 baht a tonne as they can get money faster than the previous programme of rice insurance, according to a poll by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC).

Thanavath Phonvichai, UTCC vice-president for research, said farmers felt the faster pay-out enables them to more quickly buy consumer products and other necessities. 

About 1,200 farmers responded to the July 10-15 survey about the comparative benefits of the government's  pledging scheme and the previous government's rice insurance programme.

Mr Thanavath said one-third of the respondents were addicted to rice pledging, saying the government should continue running the programme.

Rice pledging was estimated to have cost the government 282 billion baht as of Wednesday.

Begun last October, the programme for the 2011-2012 rice season pledged 6.95 million tonnes of paddy from 1.29 million farm households at a cost of 122 billion baht. The second crop followed with 11.12 million tonnes of paddy for 160 billion baht. 

Given the massive budget outlays, Mr Thanavath said the government has yet to provide a clear answer on whether the scheme is worth the funding and how it benefits the economy, as many farmers remain poor.

He urged better food safety and food security standards, and figuring out ways to improve competitiveness for all stakeholders in the industry.