The rice-pledging scheme is entering its second year and the government is reportedly seeking a staggering 150 billion baht loan for the cash-strapped Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) so it will be able to carry on wooing farmers' support for another year.
There is no question that farmers who have registered to take part in the scheme have benefited from it.
They could sell their crops to the millers at prices higher than the actual market prices, even though the prices they received, in most cases, were lower than the 15,000 baht/tonne for white rice and 20,000 baht/tonne for Hom Mali grains pledged by the government.
Millers normally cite moisture and other problems to bargain down the prices.
There is also no denying the millers have benefited from the scheme, probably much more than the farmers who were supposed to be the real beneficiaries.
Many others such as corrupt politicians and officials who have a role in the scheme have eaten the cake too.
As far as the government is concerned, it appears that so long as farmers benefit from the scheme and get higher prices for their crops, the scheme is just fine, even if people who are not farmers also benefit from it.
In other words, corruption is acceptable so long as the scheme works.
But given that the rice-pledging scheme is funded by the taxpayers through the BAAC, the government should attempt to close loopholes which have allowed unscrupulous elements to exploit the scheme before proceeding with its borrowing plans.
The non-transparent manner in which the Commerce Ministry has been running the scheme as if it owns the taxpayers' money which funds it is also unacceptable.
The ministry's persistent refusal to disclose details about its government-to-government rice deals on the grounds that the information is classified is laughable.
This reluctance to part with the facts has resulted in speculation the ministry may in fact be hiding something which it feels is too embarrassing to disclose to the public.
The ministry or the government at large seems to have forgotten the popular Thai saying, "A dead elephant cannot be covered by lotus leaves".
The rice-pledging scheme is like an elephant as it involves millions of farmers and a staggering amount of funding which may reach 500 billion baht over just two years.
And the truth is that this big elephant is seriously sick and, even worse, the government and the ministry have refused to accept that the beast is ailing and needs medical care.
But the truth cannot be covered up forever. A new problem is emerging which poses a challenge to the wisdom of those in the ministry.
About 80-90 state-run warehouses are still jam-packed with unsold rice from last year's harvest, roughly estimated at 14.6 million tonnes of milled rice.
They have little if any space available to store new rice harvests, which could increase this year by 9% on previous levels, to be bought under the rice-pledging scheme.
Any chances of making space for the arrival of new rice harvests by exporting more rice this year appears bleak given the US Department of Agriculture's forecast that the world's milled rice production will reach an all-time high of 465.3 million tonnes, and the ministry's insistence that rice not be sold at a loss. The government may have to face up to the problems it has created under this populist scheme sooner rather than later.