The government has yet to settle a new pledging price for the 2013-14 main rice crop, while farmers remain divided over the pledging rate they can accept.
Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan yesterday said after discussions with representatives of four associations that farmers have yet to conclude which options they prefer.
The government came up with two options for the pledging price.
The first is to continue to buy rice at 15,000 baht a tonne but limit pledging to only once a year and purchase to 500,000 tonnes per household.
The second option is to cut the pledging price to 13,000 baht a tonne and expand the programme to twice a year. Purchase would be limited to only 300,000 baht per household.
The new programme expects to purchase 16.5 million tonnes of paddy.
Mr Niwatthamrong said the government plans to spend 250 billion baht on either of the options and will try its best to curb losses to not more than 100 billion.
He said farmers will be allowed to reach a mutual conclusion this weekend before the preferred option is tabled for approval by the National Rice Policy Committee on Monday.
If farmers fail to reach agreement, it is highly likely the pledging price will be subject to further delay, he said.
Wichian Phuanglamjiak, president of the Thai Agriculturist Association, said the group prefers the second option and believes the cut of pledging prices should go to cover only white rice paddy, not other grains such as Hom Mali rice and glutinous rice.
However, Prapat Panyachartraksa, chairman of the National Farmers Council, earlier said it is willing to accept the government's proposal to continue buying paddy at 15,000 baht a tonne but limit pledging to only once a year.
But it demands the government improve the pledging process by allowing farmer representatives to participate in inspecting rice quality and moisture as well as millers' preservation methods.
About the author
- Writer: Phusadee Arunmas
Position: Business Reporter