Struggling farmers get compensation
The government has begun paying 25 billion baht in financial assistance to rice growers whose crops were damaged by drought or flooding, Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana says.
Each of the rice growers eligible to receive the financial aid will receive 500 baht per rai for their damaged paddy fields, Mr Uttama said.
People entitled to receive the financial assistance are those who have registered their rice growing areas with agricultural authorities and whose damaged rice fields have already been verified by the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry, he said.
The Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) that is responsible for handling transfers of the financial assistance from the government to eligible farmers has received about 2 million names of such farmers, he said.
The bank expects to get all the transfers for all of these farmers done in three days, he said.
As of Sunday, a total of 10.9 billion baht has already been transferred to the bank accounts of about 1.7 million families, according to Jirawat Loha, director of the Khon Kaen provincial branch office of the BAAC.
Other financial measures to help ease the impact of a financial burden on the affected rice farmers will follow, Mr Uttama said.
The measures will include an extension of the repayment period of debts these farmers have with the BAAC, a maximum soft loan of 50,000 baht per person for covering their urgent needs of money and another 50,000 baht loan per person for occupational rehabilitation purposes, he said.
The government will set aside about 60 billion baht to fund these measures, he said.
Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Chalermchai Sri-on, meanwhile, said the ministry is preparing at least 21,000 tonnes of rice seeds to be supplied to rice growers affected by drought and flooding for their next rice growing seasons.
So far at least 2.5 million rai of rice growing areas of 383,214 farmers in 24 provinces in the North, the Northeast and upper Central Plains have been damaged by either drought or flooding, he said.
The 21,000 tonnes of rice seeds are intended for the first batch of 102,500 rice growing families whose damaged paddy fields have already been surveyed and verified by the ministry, he said.