Farmers' aid decision pushed back

Farmers' aid decision pushed back

A final decision on measures to help farmers has been put off, with the rice-related working panels asking for more time to prepare information.

As scheduled, the first meeting of the rice administration and management policy committee yesterday chaired by junta chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha was due to give the nod to short-term measures that address low paddy prices and spiralling production costs. However, a committee source said the meeting was adjourned until possibly next week.

A meeting between Gen Chatchai Sarikalya, deputy head of economic affairs for the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), and representatives from rice millers, farmers, exporters and relevant state agencies on Monday agreed on guidelines to help farmers cope with production costs.

Within the guidelines, vendors of chemical fertiliser, insecticide and rice seeds as well as rice harvesters and landowners who rent their farmland agreed to cut their product prices, while the state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives is set to offer special low-interest loans to farmers and is committed to design additional measures to raise the paddy prices.

The junta is also committed to stabilising paddy prices at 8,500 to 9,000 baht.

Under the junta's rice administration and management policy committee structure, four working panels have been set up to oversee different rice issues — the subcommittees on rice production and marketing, rice disposal, accounting and state rice inspection.

At the first meeting of main rice committee, all the panels must inform the group of their progress the past month.

In a related development, the source said the junta was expected to nominate three more knowledgeable persons to the 17-member main rice committee.

Nipon Poapongsakorn, a distinguished fellow at the Thailand Development Research Institute, suggested it would be great if another independent body was set up to audit the rice pledging programme to ensure more accuracy and trust.

"The ways the vendors, rice harvesters and landowners agreed to cut their product prices may cause a problem down the road when put into practice," he said.

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